A few thousand people from India's Bengal are living in distress and poverty in Bangladesh as they got stuck here after coming to visit their relatives in early March and could not return home due to Covid-19-induced lockdown.
Most of these people are from the districts of Nadia, Malda, Murshidabad, North 24-Parganas and other parts of north Bengal, reports The Telegraph Online.
Since the Centre is yet to give its nod to allow their return through integrated check-posts because of the Covid situation in Bangladesh, these Indians are compelled to stay there in an unauthorised manner as their 60-day permits have already expired.
Many Indians, mostly economically weak, have been forced to leave their relatives' homes and gather near the border hoping to return home.
Running out of money, many are living on alms provided by Bangladeshis. Among the stranded are patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, mental disorder, and kidney ailments. They are unable to buy medicines because the validity of the prescriptions expired.
Relatives of a few stranded persons have appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take up the matter with the Centre and ensure their immediate return.
Golam Soroal Biswas, an Eastern Railway employee from Nadia's Aranghata, has recently e-mailed an appeal to Mamata to ensure the return of his wife Ashanur Begum.
"My wife suffers from epilepsy and has ailments related to kidney and thyroid. She had gone to visit her ailing sister at Maheshpur in Bangladesh. But now she is in a serious condition without medicine. I fear for her life if she is not brought back to India immediately," Biswas said
"I got in touch with the Indian embassy in Dhaka many times and enrolled her name as a stranded person. But in the absence of any government directive, she could not be brought back," he added.
Similarly, Zakir Husain, a retired bank manager from Malda's English Bazar, is stranded in the Bholaghat area of Champai-Nawabganj of Bangladesh. Husain had gone to visit his ailing maternal aunt.
"I have been trying hard to return but failed. The situation has worsened and I am in serious depression as I have run out of money," he said over a WhatsApp call.
According to local sources, around 500 persons from various places in Malda had entered Bangladesh through Mehedeipur.
"Many people have been compelled to leave the homes of their relatives and gathered at Champai-Nawabganj, which is closer to border, hoping it will open soon. But most of these people have no money and are begging on the roads here," Husain added.
In May, a few hundred stranded Indians were sent back from Bangladesh to Calcutta by flight under the Centre's 'Vande Bharat' mission. Many of those stranded in Bangladesh could not make it to the flights or the air fare was too much for them to afford.
Senior Trinamul leader from Malda and former minister Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury said, "We will take up the matter with the state government, but it is the Centre that should act fast and ensure the return of our citizens."
BJP's Malda North MP Khagen Murmu, however, expressed ignorance about the matter. "I was not aware of the plight of these persons. I will talk to the Centre and try my best for their return home soon."
A senior Bengal government official at Nabanna said, "The Centre should take a call on the matter first and convey its decision accordingly."