BSF officials at the Mahadipur checkpost say they have never seen such an exodus in years. Even Awami League members are among those seeking refuge in India, say sources.
Hundreds of loaded trucks are stranded on this side of the border as export has come to a complete stop. Some 300 drivers and helpers returned on Friday, leaving their trucks behind in Bangladeshi ports. Hundreds more from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab are stranded there. “We are more concerned for their safety now than our losses,” said exporter Samir Ghosh.
Awami League leader Md Alauddin, a member of the Natore municipality board, and his wife were seen walking through Mahadipur border checkpost on Friday. “The entire nation is in flames. Roads have been cut at many places, and houses torched. Awami supporters are under attack,” he said.
Risha, a second-year BBA student, followed Alauddin a while later, on her way to a relative’s house in Murshidabad . “The library at Shibgunj in Nawabgunj district was set on fire on Thursday. The flames were yet to die down when I left. We are very scared,” she said. Like Risha, many begin by claiming that they have crossed over for medical treatment.
“I don’t know when I shall be able to return home,” said the student.
Sixty-year-old Abdus Salam of Chapai Nawabgunj admits he is terrified. “An undeclared strike is on. Jamat has called an official strike on Sunday and Monday. We fear more violence,” he said, as Bajlur Haque and wife Latika Akhtar added. The couple has fled from Bagha in Rajsahi . “We had to sneak through fields and forests as the roads have been cut at many places. Houses and cars are being set on fire,” said Bajlur.
Although Bangladeshis do come in through Mahadipur , the number has suddenly doubled, say BSF officlas. Infiltration also has shot up. On Wednesday night, 29 infiltrators – including children and women – were intercepted at the Hili border.