Soviet Antonov-12 aircraft today (Tuesday) began airlifting East Pakistan refugees from the swollen Sahara camp to Mana, in central India.
Soviet Antonov-12 aircraft today (Tuesday) began airlifting East Pakistan refugees from the swollen Sahara camp to Mana, in central India. Thousands crowded outside a Government compound at Barasat, 15 miles (24 kms) north east of Calcutta to apply for resettlement in Mana. Underlying the apparent urge to leave the refugees camp is a feeling among the Pakistanis that they are being moved to an inhospitable area where Bengali, their language, isn't spoken. Indian officials have denied that there have been demonstrations by the refugees. Those selected to make the flight are examined by a doctor to make sure they are fit and have been vaccinated against cholera. Special trains have also been brought into service to transport the refugees.
SYNOPSIS: The miserable existence of East Pakistan refugees at camp Sahara, 15 miles (24 kms) north east of Calcutta is being eased by a full scale moving operation launched by the authorities. With the aid of special trains and two aircraft from the Soviet Union, refugees are being moved to Mana in Central India.
Thousands of refugees line up each day to be interviewed by camp authorities. They have to pass a strict medical examination to prove they are fit and have been vaccinated against cholera before they are moved from the settlement. The monsoon season is expected to reach its peak at the end of the month. Health authorities, still worried about the presence of cholera, have predicted that the poorly clothed and shelterless refugees could catch pneumonia.
To speed up the evacuation to Mana, the Soviet Union has sent two aircraft to Calcutta's Dum Dum airport The United States is expected to send in four transport aircraft to help.
The Soviet aircraft can carry 600 refugees to Mana a day. They are on loan for an initial period of one week. Some of the refugees said before leaving Calcutta that they would return to East Pakistan if the country ever obtained automony from the Western wing. But underlying the evacuation are reports that some of the refugees had demonstrated against the move to Mana. They claim that the area is inhospitable and their language, Bengali, isn't spoken. However, Indian officials said that the refugees were eager to go to Central India to start a new life. Despite the aircraft and trains, Sahara camp is still grossly overcrowded and with the approaching height of the monsoon season there is the fear that the death rate from disease and pneumonia will increase unless ???