The desperate problems accompanying India's massive influx of East Pakistan refugees are graphically illustrated in the plight of one town.
The desperate problems accompanying India's massive influx of East Pakistan refugees are graphically illustrated in the plight of one town. Barasat, a Calcutta dormitory town fifteen miles north-east of the city, typifies the proportions which the crisis has reached.
Barasat's normal population is 80,000. This figure, however, has multiplied over a 48 hour period as a quarter million exhausted, starving and diseased Bangladesh refugees streamed into this West Bengal town.
Knowing they would be unwelcome in Calcutta which was already overcrowded and unwilling to cope with any extra burdens of the hungry and homeless, these refugees from the Jessore area of East Pakistan stopped their trek at Barasat. Nearly 250,000 of them moved in, and took over the town.
Visnews staffer Durgas Chatterji shot this film to show what happens when a town like Barasat is suddenly caught up in a refugee crisis. Although, as West Bengalis, the people of Barasat have a degree of sympathy for their fellow Bengalis from East Pakistan, they are also now naturally resentful towards this mass of people which has swamped their city.
This story of Barasat could well be the story at any other border city in West Bengal during this crisis.