ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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WEST BENGAL-Victims of Their Leaders Making

ECONAND POLITICAL WEEKLY WEST BENGAL Victims of Their Leaders' Making Kalyan Chaudhuri THE West Bengal government is on horns of a dilemma over the problem posed by the large number of refugees who have left Dandakaranya and have been camping in Hasnabad on their way towards the Sundarbans. At present there are about 10,000 families of Dandakaranya deserters in Hasnabad, the gateway of the Sundarbans; and many have already forcibly entered in the uninhabitable, and restricted areas under the Tiger Project in the Sundarban forests. The Left Front government of West Bengal, which from the very beginning has been smelling a rat in the sudden influx of refugees from Dandakaranya, is completely at a loss as to preventing the refugees from fanning out across the Ichamati river in commandeered boats into the Sundarbans on the other side from Hasnabad. Force appears to be the only answer; but that would mean inevitable bloodshed which the state government wants to avoid. The State government appears to be determined not to allow these people to settle down in the Sundarbans; the Dandakaranya deserters, on the other hand, are adamant and refuse to budge an inch from their programme of 'Sundarban Chalo'. At present the refugees have been cordoned by heavy police guard in Hasnabad and there have been reports of clashes between the police and the undaunted sections of refugees. The situation is quite explosive and any moment large-scale disturbances may break out creating a major law and order problem. While the state government has been consistently persuading the refugees to return to Dandakaranya, it has also had to provide them, for the interim period, with food and shelter in Hasnabad. With the onset of monsoon the condition of refugee camps in Hasnabad has worsened and reports of death due to various diseases have been more frequent.

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