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[Not just refugees, but social workers, politicians, even government officials from West Bengal have claimed that the Union government discriminated between the displaced persons in the East and the West following Partition. Presented below is a ‘Report of a Tour of Inspection of some of the Refugee Homes in north-western India prepared by well-known social workers of West Bengal. This eyewitness account as well as comparative analysis points to the discrimination practiced.]

 

THROUGH the kindness of the central Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation, a body of non-official women social workers of West Bengal were able to visit several homes and training centres for refugees women and children in the states of East Punjab, Pepsu and Delhi, and make a detailed study of the steps taken to rehabilitate them in those states under the guidance of the Government of India. The experience was valuable as affording a yardstick with which to measure the steps taken in West Bengal to tackle similar problems in this side of India and suggesting what further liberalisation of the measures of relief are necessary so that the displaced women and children of West Bengal may at least march in step with their sisters from West Punjab and Sind. We cordially thank Shri Meher Chand Khanna and his ministry for the opportunity thus given and the officials of all the organisations we visited for sparing no pains to make our visit as comfortable and instructive as possible. In the following paragraphs we propose to state briefly what we saw and learnt.

 

The itinerary:

The first batch of social workers including Sm. Bina Das, Sm. Sudha Sen and Sm. Sheila Davar accompanied by Sm Suniti Pakrashi, Dy Director of Women’s Rehabilitation in West Bengal left Calcutta on 19 March 1955, and reached Dehra Doon on the 21st morning. The second batch consisting of Sm. Ashoka Gupta and Sm. Amar Kumari Varma left on the following day and joined them at Jullundur on the morning of the 22nd. The accompanying chart shows the places visited, the name and nature of the institutions inspected and the date of the visit.

 

Date

Name of Institution

Description

21.3.55

Bapu Industrial Training Institute (Dehra Doon)

Non-residential training centre for women

22.3.55

Gandhi Banita Asram (Jullundur)

Home for unattached women and their dependants

22.3.55

Lady Kusum Trivedi Sevasadan (Jullundur)

Home for unattached young women and girls

23.3.55

Widow’s Home (Hoshierpur)

Home for widows and their dependants

24.3.55

Kasturba Sevasram (Rajpura)

Home for unattached women and their dependants

 

Nai Taleem School for boys

Day school

 

Nai Taleem School for girls

Day school

 

Work Centre (Rajpura)

Training cum production centre for men and boys

 

Sri Jainendra Gurukul (Panchkula)

Boys’ home and school

25.3.55

Kasturba Niketan (New Delhi) (Morning)

Orphanage for boys and girls

 

Kasturba Niketan (New Delhi) (Afternoon)

Home for unattached women and children

 

Kingsway Colony Work Centre (New Delhi)

Non-residential work cum training centre for boys and girls

 

Bengali Market Work Centre

Do. For women

 

Connaught Circus Work Centre (New Delhi)

Do. For women

26.3.55

Arab-ki-Sarai (New Delhi)

Training cum work centre for boys

 

Ljapat Nagar Work Centre (New Delhi)

Do. For boys and girls

 

Malviya Nagar Work Centre

Do. For boys and girls

 

Kalkaji Work Centre

Do. For boys and girls

27.3.55

Women’s Home (Faridabad)

Home and work centre run by Kasturba Trust for unattched women and children.

28.3.55

Central Infirmary (Rewari)

Infirmary for old and invalid men and women and their families

 

How the institutions work:

1. Bapu Industrial Training Institute, Dehra Doon – This institution works in two sections, one for about 200 refugee girls and women under the control of the Rehabilitation Department and the other for local women under the control of the Department of Labour. The trades taught are tailoring, embroidery, calico printing, fruit preservation, hosiery, weaving and stenography (English and Hindi). The Labour Department prescribes the syllabus, conducts examinations and awards certificates. The hostel attached to the Institute contained 44 boarders on the date of the visit. The point for special notice is the liberal expenditure allowed which amounts to Rs 80 per month per capita, Rs 30 given as stipend and Rs 50 allowed for other charges such as establishment, training fees, etc. The school and the hostel buildings are spacious.

2. Gandhi Banita Asram, Jullundur – Originally started to accommodate abducted women and children from West Pakistan, this commodious building was later converted into a home for displaced destitute widows (with their children) and unattached children from general relief camps as well as from outside when the recovered abducted persons were either restored to their families or otherwise resettled. At present there are 1235 destitute women and children and 134 unattached children in the home.

The educational and training facilities of the inmates are worth noting. Within the home itself there is a middle school where education is free and reading and writing materials are provided. There is also a junior teachers training class for 45 students, and an adult literacy class where grownups are taught. For those children who have outgrown the teaching provided within the home, arrangements are made with outside institutions, such as local schools and colleges for higher education where they are admitted to free studentships or the normal school at Jullundur, the training institutes at Hurdwar and Karnal and the Institute at Pilani for professional and technical training where the students are paid a stipend of Rs 30 pm. The handicapped children are sent either to Lady Nye Deaf and Dumb School, New Delhi, or the Blind School or the Khalsa Orphanage at Amritsar with a stipend of Rs 25 per head per month. A large number have been transferred to Panchkula for education up to the matriculation standard or for vocational or technical training with a stipend of Rs 30 per head per month.

To teach crafts to grownups to make them self-supporting there is a training-cum-production centre within the home where tailoring, weaving, machine embroidery, plastic and leather work, soap making etc. are taught under expert guidance, and the trainee receives wages in proportion to his output. For the illiterate and the less skilled, work is provided in hand embroidery, achar making, domestic service etc. A large number of women have been sent to different institutions for being trained as midwives, nurses and dais. For children below schoolgoing age, nurseries and creches have been set up to enable mothers to work in a training centre or outside.

Besides these facilities for education, training and work, the inmates are entitled to maintenance which takes the form of a monthly cash allowance on the following scale:

 

(a)

For a family of one person

Rs 18 per month

(b)

For a family of two persons

Rs 16 per head

   

per month

     

(c)

For a family of three persons

Rs 15 per head

   

per month

     

(d)

For a family of four persons

Rs 14 per head

   

per month

     

(e)

For a family of five persons

Rs 13 per head

   

per month

(f)

For every additional

Rs 10 per month

 

member beyond five

 

 

No distinction is made between children and adults and all are paid at the same scale. In addition to such cash allowances every person gets Rs 2 per month for clothing. Physical and moral training is organised and intellectual exercises such as debating are provided for and encouraged. There is a 10 bed hospital within the home for the sick and invalid.

On completion of training the inmates are usually fixed up with the help of the Occupation Organiser Centre in some suitable job with a rehabilitation grant of Rs 250. Some have been allotted lands and a few have received interim compensation at varying rates. Some inmates run shops within the home on a cooperative basis. A marriage grant of Rs 200 is paid to each girl on the eve of her marriage.

3. Lady Kusum Trivedi Sevasram – This is a hostel for grownup girls with a present strength of 219 inmates. There is a well run community kitchen and provision for many-sided cultural activities. A special feature is its cooperative store where articles with marked prices are purchased and the proceeds deposited in a box without the intervention of a salesman.

4. Widows Home, Hoshierpur – Situated at the foot of the Siwalik Hills on spacious and well laid grounds and containing 28 palatial structures in a rural setting but within a reasonable distance from the city boundary, this asram has many outstanding advantages of which it has made the fullest use. The entire land and property has been acquired at government cost for the benefit of the asram where it has its own school, post office, hospital and library, bazar and religious halls. The present number of inmates is 1162.

The chief pride of the institute is its adult education work which was started with voluntary services but has now got sanctioned posts for three salaried teachers. The absorption of a number of women trained in these schools in gainful occupation such as teachers and dais has led to a great increase in the demand for such education in recent years, followed by a course of junior training or nurse and dai training. Those who passed the matric, get trained for Anglo-Vernacular or basic schools or as full-fledged nurses and get easily absorbed. Besides academic education training is imparted in crafts such as tailoring, spinning, weaving, hosiery, embroidery etc. Some women run shops or keep livestock and poultry on a cooperative basis which yields an income ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 25 per head. There are provisions for sports and physical culture and students are keen on dramatic representation of Indian mythological tales. The efficiency of the teaching methods and the keenness for education, especially adult education, is proved by the fact that a course which would normally take three or four years is covered within a single year. The discipline maintained within the home is admirable. The government grant per capita is Rs 25. Out of this cash dole is in the scale as mentioned above.

5. Kasturba Sevasram, Rajpura, Pepsu – This is a home for unattached women and their dependants managed by the Kasturba Trust which draws a grant at Rs 25 per capita for running the institute. It has a pre-basic school for very young children, while slightly grown-up children attend one or other of the three basic schools run by the Nai Talim Sangha within the township. After eighteen, a selection is made for technical or vocational training in centres run by the Rehabilitation Ministry. The total number of inmates now is 800. Nearly all the able-bodied women are gainfully employed and earn a monthly wage in addition to doles. Land, building, capital grant for equipment, furniture, etc. are not included in the above figures.

6. Work cum Production Centre, Rajpura – Originally started in 1949, it was later expanded to train 300 persons (mostly refugees with 5 to 10% non-refugees) in different crafts of which carpentry, bricklaying, furniture polishing, cane and bamboo work, tailoring, compositors work and signboard and commercial painting are found most suitable for rehabilitation. The other crafts taught are blacksmithy and sheet metal work, motor mechanism, foundry, weaving, hosiery and leather work.

Each refugee trainee gets a stipend of Rs 30 per month. The initial capital cost of land, building and equipment (totalling Rs 18.38 lakh) was paid by the Government of India who also paid in 1954-55 a further capital grant of Rs 2.13 lakh and a special grant of Rs 7,000 for setting up a motor mechanic section. For recurring cost the Government of India pays Rs 25 per trainee per month plus Rs 50 per trainee per annum for capital. The training period is one year and quarterly assessment tests are held. On completion of training a few are absorbed in the production wing, but the majority seek jobs outside. The total number of persons trained to-date is 1144 and the number absorbed in the production section averages from 120 to 180. The earning of persons so absorbed varies from Rs 1/8 to Rs 2/8 per day according to their skill and efficiency. The production wing is expected to be self-supporting and is largely patronised by the Pepsu government for supplying hospital furniture of all kinds, hosiery goods, bed sheets, dusters, uniforms etc.

In this connection something must be said about Rajapura township itself, which was constructed in record time to house the refugees of Bahawalpur and provide them with some modern amenities. There are 2572 single-room tenements, 525 shops, a hospital (Ajit Jain Hospital, complete with x-ray apparatus and costing Rs 4.5 lakh in construction alone), three basic schools and an infirmary for 500 old and destitute people – all constructed at the cost of the Government of India, though the management of most of them has now been transferred to the state government. Large scale and small scale industries are being attracted to the place by leasing out lands and granting 50% of the cost of the machinery. A bone mill, a cycle factory, an iron melting factory, a factory for manufacturing tyres and tubes are some of the industries that have been or are being set up to provide occupation to the refugee population.

 

Comparative Analysis

 

Refugees from West Pakistan

Refugees from East Pakistan

1. Immediate recognition of the size, gravity of the problem and early construction of new townships like Faridabad, Rajapura and Tripuri led to the permanent rehabilitation in pucca houses of many refugees and provision for their employment either in work centres or in industries attracted to those townships provided with hospitals, schools, infirmaries, etc. – all at government cost.

1. Although there was a steady influx of refugees from 1948 onwards which reached a peak after the riots in 1950, no planned large township worth the name was ever built (except Fulia) which could go towards permanent rehabilitation of even a fraction of the 60 lakhs of refugees already in West Bengal.

2. The reception camps, homes, training cum work centres and infirmaries are of a superior kind.

 

(a) There are pucca permanent buildings with running water, separate kitchen, good sanitary arrangements and bathrooms and latrines laid up in spacious grounds (witness, for example, Gandhi Banita Asram at Jullundur and Widows’ Home at Hoshierpur).

 

(b) In most cases one and sometimes two or three small families are accommodated in one room, but allowance of space per head seldom goes below 30 sft, so that there is hardly any congestion. The rooms are well lighted and ventilated and each one has a kitchen attached to it so that no cooking is done inside the living room. There is ample courtyard space for camps. And physical exercises even when there is no gymnasium.

2. (a) & (b) Reception camps here in West Bengal were the decaying bamboo hutments with CI roofs left by the military authorities. This was bad economy for the recurring repair cost during the last seven years has gone up to lakhs. Even jute godowns and aluminium huts for storing grains have been pressed into service as reception camps where many families had to stay on for more than three or four years awaiting final rehabilitation or transfer to a better site. Lack of privacy and of kitchen space is notorious. Scanty water supply with hand pumps and congested rooms with leaking roofs have led to a number of strikes in PL camps. All the camps that we have visited here in West Bengal for PL women and children lack workrooms, creche rooms, playground, separate kitchen, common prayer room even after seven years.

(c) Cash allowance for food (and not cooked food) is paid in accordance with the scale mentioned in connection with Gandhi Banita Asram at Jullundur. In addition, Rs 2 is paid to each person per month for clothing which the recipient is free to spend herself, though purchase of garment and materials prepared in the home production centres is encouraged. In the homes managed by Kasturba Trust the inmates of the home concerned consume the khadi produced at the home on cash payment. Each worker is allowed to receive and retain the wages earned by him or her in the work centre or elsewhere without reduction to their maintenance dole.

(c) Cash doles for food is not paid at uniform rates for an adult and a child. The scale of doles here is Rs 12 for an adult and Rs 8 for a child below eight, and up to a maximum of Rs 60, whatever may be the number in the family. Whereas in East Punjab the scale is as follows:

1 unit family Rs 18

2 person family Rs 16

3 person family Rs 15

4 person family Rs 14

5 person family Rs 13

and plus Rs 10 for every additional member.

In PL camps and homes for the aged and the infirm no such regular work centre was ever sanctioned to enable them to learn and earn something. Even when some work centres or training centres were sanctioned, it was for a short period only and no wages were paid for the goods produced by them after the training was completed. The plea given for this is that they are fed and clothed at government expense. Women are therefore reluctant to come and work at the work centres or training centres. There was a proposal to start khadi production for which they were to be paid wages. Our information is that the Government of India wanted to cut doles for these earnings. Consequently the proposal for giving occupation to persons willing to work failed. Allowance for clothes at Rs 2 per capita is never given to the camp inmates in cash. Sarees, dhotis and garments are supplied by the department twice during the year, but the result of such bulk purchase is that the garments seldom fit the person to whom it is given. For bedding the inmates are provided with one mat each, and a thin cotton blanket for a family of three supplied by the Ministry from Delhi. No charpoys or ‘razais’ are provided as is done for West Punjab refugees. In the damp Bengal climate the bedding provided is very inadequate.

(d) Some work centres are only training centres without provision for residence, but each home is a complete unit providing not only residence but also education in different stages, professional or practical training and employment for at least a short length of time. One (e.g. at Hoshierpur) is a small town in itself. Others (e.g. at Jullundur) have in addition to other facilities their own hospital. All have creches to enable mothers to leave their children and go out to work. The Kasturba Homes in Rajpura and New Delhi have their own pre-basic schools. Almost all have their bal mandirs or middle schools and when inmates outgrow the education provided within the home, arrangement is made with outside institutions to continue the training till he or she is fit to take up a vocation (witness the steps taken by the Gandhi Banita Asram at Jullundur. Widows’ Home at Hoshierpur and the Kasturba Homes at Pepsu and New Delhi in this connection). The stipends are allowed to these trainees if they go out of homes for further training. The dependants of the trainee remain and get maintained in the homes even after they have secured jobs.

(d) No home or a PL women’s camp, however long it may have been established, has been provided with any facilities for education at nursery or pre-basic stage. No creche is supplied. There are no middle school in any of the PL camps. If there are schools nearby, they are allowed to attend; if not, they go without further education. When women are sent for training in vocational training centres, their children are looked after in the homes, established for trainees’ children, but the day they finish their training, their children are generally discharged and handed over to them, although they have not secured any jobs yet. No woman is allowed to go and work in the adjoining city or village even if she is willing. We have seen a number of women in the PL camps engaged in bidi or paper-bag making but they do it secretly because they are afraid of their doles getting cut.

(e) The rate of grants are of a generous scale. It is seldom below Rs 30 per month and is sometimes at a higher rate according to the professional training chosen. Some privately managed homes for children (Khalsa Orphanage at Amritsar, Lady Nye Deaf & Dumb School, New Delhi, Kasturba Sevasram) receive Rs 25 per refugee admitted to their Institutions. The Jainendra Gurukul at Panchkula receives Rs 30 per child. But each training institution for adult in addition to the maintenance grants receive capital grants for equipment, building, raw materials, establishments etc.

(e) The rate of grant is almost the same but several categories are excluded from this privilege. Women refugees taking a course of training in teaching or nursing in a recognised institution or hospital are not given any stipend but are only allowed to attend the vocational training centres specially set up for refugees.

(f) In addition to the stipends amounting to Rs 30 per head to the trainees government provides the houses, the establishment and equipment cost and a revolving cost of raw materials. In Rewari a revolving cost of Rs 5 lakh has been recommended.

(f) Except in Titagar and Gariahat work centres (which are for men) the grants for women under these heads in West Bengal are very meagre. In non-residential training centres women are given stipends @ Rs 15 only.

(g) In work centres there is one teacher per 16 to 20 trainees. The Superintendent holds gazetted rank with drawing and disbursing powers and powers to sanction leave and take disciplinary action, is able to purchase at his discretion up to Rs 300 in each transaction, and to secure orders and to sell. There is an Assistant Superintendent where the number of inmates exceeds 500. The clerical staff is adequate – pay being

Accounts cum Cashier Rs 175

Clerk Rs 115

Typist Rs 100

(g) In our camps and homes the Superintendent does not have gazetted rank and has no power to sanction leave to staff or take disciplinary action against inmates. The general assistants have no knowledge and experience and serve no useful purpose. The pay of the clerk is Rs 47 plus allowance and is too inadequate to attract good officers. We recommend gazetted status to the Superintendents engaged in West Bengal. They should be experienced, middle-aged social workers with high academic qualification. Pay scale should be the same as that of East Punjab (Rs 300 + Rs 50 for supervising work section).

(h) Some homes (Kusum Trivedi Sevasram) claim to have successfully achieved moral rehabilitation. Others claim that almost all their trainees have been provided with jobs either within the workshop or outside. There is no doubt that the occupational organiser centre within some of the homes is a great help in finding employment for the trainees.

(h) There is no social or cultural life, no puja room or prayer hall and no arrangement for library, reading room and indoor games in any of the camps in West Bengal. There is no occupational organiser within the Homes or attached to the government who can help in finding employment for the trainee.

(i) The expenditure of the homes for PL category is on an average per capita Rs 25 only which roughly covers all the expenses.

(i) The expenditure in the camps (running since 1949) for PL category in West Bengal are run on Rs 14 per capita only which covers all their expenses.

(j) Admissions – Hard cases are still admitted and the average number of such admissions of women and children is 100 per month. These cases relate to persons who migrated in 1947.

(j) New arrivals in Sealdah are admitted to the camps only after a thorough enquiry and scrutiny. But in case of old arrivals, hard cases are admitted after a long process of investigation which takes months.

 

7. Shri Jainendra Gurukul, Panchkula – This, as its name implies, is a residential school run by the Jain community with 774 refugee students on its roll. It has a big permanent building where students are taught up to the matriculation standard together with instructions in crafts, such as spinning, weaving, tailoring, tin-smithy, carpentry and agriculture. The per capita expenditure sanctioned by the Rehabilitation Ministry is Rs 30 per month and is amply justified.

8. (1) Kasturba Niketan, New Delhi; (2) Women’s Home (Orphanage); (3) Lajpat Nagar Work Centre, New Delhi. All the three are run directly by the State Directorate of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation and are very well organised. The special features are (a) an efficient bal mandir for little children; (b) neatness in the dormitories and the dining halls; (c) efficiency of the training cum work centre; (d) an adult education class; and (e) physical training and parade. School- going children attend primary and secondary schools outside the homes. There is a creche adjoining the work centre. Each family is housed in a large well- ventilated room and a small verandah which serves as kitchen.

9. Kingsway Colony Work Centre

10. Bengali Market Work Centre

11. Connaught Circus Work Centre

12. Arab-ki-Sarai

13. Malaviya Nagar Work Centre

14. Kalkaji Work Centre

These are a few of the 22 training cum work centres started in Delhi and its environs. The general pattern is the same and the only difference is in degree. Some are non-residential and some have hostel accommodation for a fraction of the trainees. Some are coeducational and some are exclusive to one sex. The period of training varies from one year to two years. Refugees receive a stipend at Rs 30 per month. There is generally one teacher for 16 or 20 trainees. The buildings are spacious and in most cases were provided and are maintained by the Central PWD. The usual crafts are taught, but no employment is guaranteed, though in the production wing large government orders are received and executed in which the passed trainees have an opportunity to earn wages. Nearly all the trained students are said to have been provided employment in the production wings or outside.

15. Women’s Home, Faridabad – This home with a sanctioned strength of 1500 inmates has at present 1326 inmates accommodated in five different blocks. The grouping is made on certain well-defined principle, the aged and infirm people (mostly single) being in one block, those capable of absorbing better education in another and the rest in the other three. A stipend of Rs 25 is paid per head from which each refugee gets a cash dole on the scale mentioned before and the rest is available to the institution for payment of the staff and establishment, house rent and other incidental expenditure. There is one superintendent (Rs 300), 7 supervisors (@ Rs 90) 5 instructors (@ Rs 100), 1 accountant (Rs 175), 1 storekeeper (Rs 120), 1 occupational organiser (Rs 150), 1 clerk (Rs 115), 1 typist (Rs 110) and several peons, durwans and sweepers (@ Rs 65). The crafts taught are spinning, weaving, tailoring, soap making, envelope making, etc.

16. Rewari Central Infirmary, Rewari – Established in June 1950 it has now 1837 inmates of which 1777 are in receipt of cash doles, while 60 are provided with cooked food. There are two primary schools and a training cum work centre for children and young wives of old men. Trainees get, in addition to their cash doles, a stipend of Rs 5 per head per month for the first three months after which they get wages for their work at piece rate.

 

Recommendations:

(1) All the permanent liability camps and infirmaries should be raised to the status of ‘homes’ and ‘work centres’.

 

(2) The present huts should be replaced by pucca structures and each family unit must have a room and a kitchen. Running water and an adequate number of bathrooms and pucca latrines should also be provided in every women’s home. Besides these minimum requirements each family should have a small allotment to be used as a kitchen garden. There should be in each home school rooms or nurseries for the very young and classes for the adult, prayer halls, workrooms and godowns. Schools should be provided where there are no such schools in the vicinity, but this need may be obviated by siting the homes near a district, a sub-divisional or an industrial town where grown up children may have their education and training in the schools meant for the general public and probably find occupation on the completion of training. Within the home boys above ten should have separate dormitories. There should be playgrounds and courtyards and each big building block within a home should be linked with other similar blocks by metalled pathways. Pucca boundary walls are necessary in women’s and children’s homes but not in infirmaries. Overcrowded camps should be thinned out by transfer of the latest arrivals to other homes. There should be a training cum work centre in each home.

 

(3) The superintendent of the homes should have gazetted rank with drawing and disbursing powers and powers to sanction leave and make purchases etc., similar to what is enjoyed by her opposite member in the Punjab.

 

(4) The scale of doles should be exactly the same as in the case of West Punjab refugees. The cloth allowance should be paid in cash with a directive that they should purchase the ‘home’ product, preferably khadi, and make their own garments rather than buy from the bazar. Charpoys or taktaposh should be included in bedding, especially in children’s homes and infirmaries and jute and cotton blankets should be replaced by ‘razais’ of reasonable size. Spinning should be made compulsory for these who can do light work, not only to keep them busy but for production of khadi cloth.

 

(5) Inmates of homes should not only not be prevented but should be encouraged to take temporary jobs outside for which leave should be granted. For the period their doles may be cut but their names should not be struck off the register until it is proved that they have been permanently rehabilitated.

 

(6) Immediate steps should be taken in respect of the refugees (women and children) in permanent liability category who have been kept in camps since 1948 on a meagre cash dole of Rs 12 and Rs 8 respectively. Because a few cases have not been properly screened or are doubtful, there is no reason why the genuine cases which constitute the large majority should not be placed on the same footing as their sisters in East Punjab. Doubtful cases may be kept as they are in the dole camps in the old scale till the enquiry is completed. A periodical screening of the doubtful cases may be carried on in the homes and PL camps even at a later period.

 

(7) New arrivals should be admitted after enquiry at the railway station but for old/hard cases there should be a non-official committee to scrutinise their genuineness and admissions should be made on their recommendation.

 

(8) It must not be forgotten that the refugee problem in West Bengal is likely to be recurring phenomenon for many years to come and is not a closed case like that in West Punjab or Sind. It would therefore be extremely unwise to fix a dateline and to state that future arrivals after that date would be denied any special consideration. That would not only be untrue historically but would aggravate the situation by accelerating migration at about the prescribed dateline. Facts should be faced and the door should be kept for treating as refugees any Hindu who permanently come away from East Pakistan on account of political tension whenever such tension may arise.

 

(9) We have gone through the recent circular issued by the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Government of India – G.O. No 15(7)(1)/54 dated 15 March 1955 – meant for the refugees from West Punjab and Sind. We are in general agreement with the suggestions made in the circular and insist on their also being made applicable to the refugees from East Bengal.

Ashoka Gupta,

Amar Kumari Varma, Sudha Sen,

Bina Das and Sheila Davar

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