বাংলাদেশের স্বাধীনতা যুদ্ধ দলিলপত্রঃ ত্রয়োদশ খণ্ড
the killing. It is because of them that the present numbers of refugees are coming across the border, despite the monsoon rains.
When the rains cease the situation will change. The country may settle down as the Army is better able to control the roads and the border. Things may get worse as more people can travel and decide to kill each other. Some Indian authorities predict a new flood of refugees, perhaps another four million. Others predict that a quarter to a half of the refugees now in India will drift back into Pakistan.
However, here they now are, these refugees huddled into camps in India with insufficient food, nothing to do, no proper place to live. The spectacle of the typical starving Pakistan refugee is by now familiar to anyone able to read or even just to use his eyes. It forces itself on all of us from the newspapers, television and advertising hoardings.
After such a bombardment, to see them in actuality is in some ways an anticlimax. A sense of occasion interferes with one's compassion. As a long anticipated cathedral or ancient castle is often not up to the evocation photographs, so some of the refugees in the camps near Calcutta seem surprisingly normal.
Some of them are cheerful. A few are almost fat. Some have work to do. Some live better than they did in their own villages back in East Pakistan. Some, but most do not, million do not, and as one travels along the roads by the border and sees camp after camp, hundreds of thousands of tents put up beside the road in trees, on plies of bricks, anywhere possible in the crowded land, it is the numbers of them that are so terrible.
After a while, grown expert in the suffering of such people, it is clear their situation is incomprehensible because it is so terrible. I spent only two days driving round the refugee camps and one night sleeping in a relatively well organized one. At first, as I have explained, they did not seem to be too badly off along the road which leads to the border at Hasnabad. In a suburb of Calcutta, Salt Lake City, 250,000 lived in a reasonable state. There was food just sufficient. There were three or four special hospitals set up by foreign relief agencies. There was even some form of policing, thanks to the nearness of Calcutta. But even here it was the children who looked the worst.
It takes some nutritional knowledge to realize how badly they are suffering. A child needs lots of protein if he has trekked several hundreds of miles and now is living, permanently diseased, on food which is different from that he is used to. He needs specially large amounts. But the Indian authorities at present hand out only 400 grams of rice per person, plus some rations of vegetables, cooking oil, cereals. Distribution problems have cut these down to 200 grams per person, in many cases, and children get only half this, 100 grams of rice a day. That's about as much as you could hold in your hand.
According to medical experts-both foreign and Indian-those children will certainly die unless they are given additional protein feeding. Three quarters of them will be dead within nine months. A million children.
Therefore, slowly, laboriously, special feeding centers for children are being set up where they get milk and high protein food called Balahar. As yet most of these feeding