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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 09:40 GMT
Appeal over Bangladeshi refugees in India
Protesters in India
Bangladeshi Hindus receive support in Calcutta, India
By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

The ruling Left Front in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal says it will appeal to the Indian Government to address what it says is a refugee influx from Bangladesh.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose has said the state chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, would ask Delhi to begin talks with Dhaka to ensure the safe repatriation of the refugees to Bangladesh.

Khaleda Zia
New Prime Minister Zia has promised protection for the minorities
He said Hindu - even some Muslim -supporters of Bangladesh's opposition Awami League, were regularly entering West Bengal because of what they described as religious and political persecution.

Mr Bose told journalists that thousands of Hindu refugees had entered West Bengal in recent weeks.

Regional concern

He has said this could create major problems for the Left government in the state.

Opposition parties in the state including the Congress, the Trinamul Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, have said that thousands of Hindus had sought refuge in India in the past month.

They have described the situation as alarming.

Meanwhile, leaders of a minority organisation in Bangladesh have alleged that the attacks on minorities in the country were well-planned.

The leaders of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Joint Council of Bangladesh have said the Islamic parties that support the newly elected ruling coalition in Dhaka are seeking to oust the minorities from Bangladesh.

They have alleged that the new government plans to change the country's constitution in order to create separate electorates, restricting minority representation in parliament.

Bangladeshi Home Minister Altaf Hussain Chowdhury said earlier that the authorities were investigating allegations that large groups of Bangladeshi Hindus were fleeing to West Bengal.

See also:

19 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Fears of Bangladeshi Hindus
06 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bangladeshi Hindus held at border
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