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'We are all Indians. We will not leave'
January 20, 2005 18:26 IST
Last Updated: January 20, 2005 19:04 IST
There is confusion among the people identified by the Orissa government as Bangladeshi infiltrators in Kendrapara district.
'Quit India' notices have been served on nearly 700 of the 1,551 people identified.
The common refrain in the villages under Mahakalapada block of the district is: "We are all Indians. We will not leave".
They are supposed to quit the country within 30 days of receiving the notice. Otherwise they will be arrested under the Foreigners' Act, 1946 and handed over to the Border Security Force for deportation on the India-Bangladesh border, according to officials.
"Why are they asking us to go? Where'll we go? This has been our home for all these years," says an old woman in Ramnagar village.
The area, where people used to fish and cultivate cashew, is reeling under the shock of the development.
The people have gathered at different spots to discuss the situation.
At a village, a group of people surround a revenue official. Visibly moved by the tears of the frail-looking men, the officer says, "I'll convey your feelings to the collector."
Many of them have produced documents of some form or other stating that they settled in the area prior to the cut-off date of December 16, 1971, the day Bangladesh came into existence.
"I was born and brought up here. My father Upen Baidya had migrated from the Shyamnagar village of Khulna district in the erstwhile east Pakistan to the uninhabited Bahakuda in 1953," says Ashutosh Baidya.
"As my other family members were killed in the post-partition disturbances, my father remarried here. I was born in 1960 on Indian soil and I am proud to be an Indian," he says.