Thousands of non-Bengalis in and around Dacca fear they will be killed if the Indian Army leaves the area to return home.
Thousands of non-Bengalis in and around Dacca fear they will be killed if the Indian Army leaves the area to return home. In suburban Dacca towns, such as Mirpur, the non-Bengalis are under a strict curfew, which is enforced by the Bangladesh police.
The non-Bengalis, known collectively as Biharis because many come from Bihar in India, are anxious to be repatriated to India or West Pakistan. The Biharis say they are unable to go to work or collect pay due them from last month before the surrender of the Pakistan Army. Their phones have been cut. They say the Red Cross is providing milk and medicines, but supplies are meagre.
They say they are dependent on protection given by the Indian Army, who are guarding all roads leading to the Bihari areas. But the Biharis feel there is a strong possibility of being killed if they leave the Bihari areas, as the Mukti Bahini -- guerrilla forces of Bangladesh -- are still going about armed.
For those Biharis left homeless after the recent war, the Indian Army has set up refugee camps where the non-Bengalis can await repatriation. VISNEWS cameraman, Prem Prakash, visited one such camp on Friday (21 January). The Karmitola Camp, in the Dacca cantonment, houses 3500 non-Bengalis. They say they feel secure in the camp, while awaiting repatriation, but would fear for their lives if the India Army were to withdraw.