• Short Summary

    A fresh influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan into West Bengal has brought the estimated total now in India to 140,000, Most of the refugees say they are fleeing from economic and political repression, claiming that their crops have been stolen and their women raped, but there have been no reports of major civil disorders in East Pakistan.

  • Description

    A fresh influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan into West Bengal has brought the estimated total now in India to 140,000, Most of the refugees say they are fleeing from economic and political repression, claiming that their crops have been stolen and their women raped, but there have been no reports of major civil disorders in East Pakistan.

    The refugees cross the border at the river Ichamati, sailing across at night. The river is not patrolled regularly by India. After crossing the river, they head for two main station on the railway line: Basirhat has about 17,000 refugees at the moment; thousands more are at Hasanabad and there are some in every village for miles around.

    All refugees must register themselves and receive innoculations against cholera and smallpox. When registering, they are given cards which entitle them to receive free rice, some vegetables--usually potatoes and onions---salt and lentils. The children receive free milk, largely thanks to a supply of gift milk powder from Australia. Eight tons of food are needed every day to feed all the refugees.

    In the current monsoon season, the rain makes dry land difficult to find and so what little there is, is crowded with tents and makeshift shelters. The Indian Army has provided 9000 tents for the refugees. Some of them even sleep on the railway station platform.

    An estimated 40-50,000 Hindus have crossed into this area in recent weeks. The usual rate of new arrivals at the Basirhat camp is about 150 families every day---which amounts to a daily influx of about 1000 people.

    Basirhat is only the initial staging post for refugees, eventually they will be dispersed and resettled in other parts of India. West Bengal is already itself overcrowded and their just is not the land to resettle the East Pakistani Hindus here.

    The train is the focal point in these refugees' lives. It leaves on alternate days carrying 1500 of them from these reception camps near the border to the initial resettlement camp at Manna near the Indian Steel town of Bhillai. From there they will leave for one of the six Indian States prepared to accept them.

    The journey takes 36 hours, but this does not deter the refugees; from joining the scramble to get aboard each time a train leaves. At present the authorities are managing to resettle the refugees at a faster rate then they are arriving but there are still over ten million Hindus left in East Pakistan.

    The plight of the refugees at the camps near the border is pitiful. They squat on platforms, huddle in tents surrounded by muddy puddles, and usually have to queue in the mud and rain for their food and for the tickets which they hope will take them away to a new life in the interior. The heavy monsoon showers have added tremendously to their troubles even though several relief organisations have been assisting them with food and clothing.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA80X16I4G4WQDI9K7WD1EFKP8V
    Media URN:
    VLVA80X16I4G4WQDI9K7WD1EFKP8V
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    28/07/1970
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:02:54:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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