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Bangladesh Hindus migrating to W. Bengal

Bangladesh Hindus migrating to W. Bengal

Publication: The Hindu
Date: November 5, 2001

Malda, Nov. 4. Scores of men and women have left their homes in Bangladesh and bundled up their belongings to sneak into the border districts of Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur of West Bengal.

Whether farmers or college professors, these people belonging to the minority Hindu community are united in their fear of a regime whose supporters have allegedly mounted violence against them since last month's general election in Bangladesh.

When contacted, the Malda DM, Mr. Ajit Ranjan Bardhan, said he was yet to get any report from police on the migration. ``I have asked for reports. Unofficially I have heard that the Hindus are coming from Bangladesh and a large number of them have taken shelter in the district. I am getting reports from my own channels.''

The Dakshin Dinajpur police SP, Mr. Anuj Sharma, said he was inquiring into the reports that Hindu families were migrating to the district. ``The atrocities on the Hindus had in fact started some time before the elections. The situation worsened after the polls especially in areas where the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) won,'' said a 35-year old farmer, Mr. Haradhan Biswas, of Gaghael village in Gopalgunj district of Bangladesh. BNP supporters had set fire and looted houses in the villages of Rautkhamar, Mollahkandi, Tentulia and Mollarhat of Barishal district and the atrocities are continuing, Mr. Biswas said.

He had escaped to Malda along with his wife and two children in the dead of the night last week. He has been given shelter by his relatives in Pakuahat village and does not plan to return. ``You can imagine the situation in which we were forced to flee. I could not even bring a change of clothes,'' Mr. Biswas said. ``What is taking place in Bangladesh is forcible usurping of minority property in the name of fundamentalism.''

Even women were not spared, he said. ``In a village near Dhaka three daughters of the same family were abducted, raped and killed.'' The Awami League supporters, Mr. Dhiren Rabidas of Nababgunj district and Ms. Tara Mondal of Ahora village, who had taken shelter in the district, said, ``we had approached the Awami League leader, Mr. Safiullah Sheikh, who told us that no guarantee could be given to help the Hindus. He asked us to escape to India and return if there is any change in the situation in the future.''

A professor, who teaches English in a college in Bangladesh, has found shelter in the same village after entering via the Hili checkpost. He has left his children at his brother's house in Bangladesh and is on the lookout for a house in Malda to move in his family. ``I want to sell my property and relocate here permanently,'' he says but refuses to give his name though he was travelling on his passport.

There are many others like him from Rajshahi, Nator, Nababganj, Gomastapur districts who have taken shelter in Baishnabnagar, Gajole, Alampur, Muchia, Pakuahat, Bamingola and other areas of the town.

Reports from Dakshin Dinajpur said a large number of migrants from Pabna, Sirajgunj, Bagura and Dinajpur in Bangladesh had entered through the porous border near Hili checkpost and were staying with relatives in Gangarampur, Tapan and Bansihari areas. Many of them have complained that they had been threatened by the BNP workers before the polls. ``The tragedy is even after we voted for the BNP we had to leave our homes,'' some of them said.


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