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October 29, 2001
1739 IST

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300 Hindu families flee Bangladesh

G Vinayak in Guwahati

At least 300 Hindu families from Bangladesh have taken shelter in Belonia subdivision of south Tripura district since last week, following threats from Muslim fundamentalist organisations, intelligence sources in Agartala said.

Most of these families are living with friends and relatives since October 20, the sources added.

The sources said that these families left Bangladesh following attacks on their homes by Muslim zealots, who are emboldened by the recent electoral victory of the Bangladesh National Party led by Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

Zia is believed to be close to the fundamentalist Jaamat-e-Islami.

The influx is not limited to Tripura alone.

Hindus in Bangladesh, living close to the West Bengal border, have also taken shelter in Bongaon area of the state.

The fresh influx has set alarm bells ringing in the Union home ministry.

A top home ministry official attributes the recent inflow to 'either political vendetta against Awami League supporters or BNP party cadres targeting Hindus'.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is extremely concerned about the developments in Bangladesh.

He had sent his National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra to Dhaka to convey New Delhi's concern.

However, Mishra returned to Delhi on Sunday without any concrete assurances from the Zia administration.

According to the intelligence sources, Hindu women in Bangladesh are particularly unsafe.

So far, 370 persons have entered Tripura and 250 West Bengal, though the 'actual influx' is expected to be much higher, sources added.

The migrants have taken shelter with their relatives already settled in the West Bengal and Tripura.

The sources said extortion, assault, rape and desecration of Hindu temples, which increased following the BNP's victory in the general elections, have prompted this influx.

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