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November 13, 2001
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US strikes drive Indian turban
makers out of work

The American bombs showering on Afghanistan are devastating lives in a faraway pocket of eastern India too.

Turban makers in a district of West Bengal, who have supplied the headgear to Afghans for years, have found themselves out of work ever since the US bombings on Afghanistan began on October 7.

"Since the war started, all trade links have been snapped. Our only source of livelihood has dried up," a resident of Raghunathpur village in South 24 Parganas district told The Hindustan Times newspaper.

"Afghans love turbans made in this part of Bengal. They are of excellent quality and sell like hot cakes in Afghanistan," he said.

There are 10,000 like him in several villages whose looms have fallen silent since the bombing began in the Taleban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, with the US hoping to flush out terror suspect Osama bin Laden.

"The war has destroyed everything. It's all over," rued Anisur Rahaman of Bangore village whose family has just about managed to keep hunger at bay.

Rahaman has now found alternative employment with the help of a voluntary agency.

The agency has been trying to encourage the turban makers to form self-help groups and take loans to tide over this slump in demand. But the response has been poor.

"I still don't know what to do. This jobless state tends to eat into you and I've run out of money," said Rahim Robin, another turban maker.

Rokeya Khatun and her husband are wondering how they will feed their three children.

She was quoted as saying: "Our only source of income was from the turbans we sold to the Afghans. But now there aren't any buyers. We've borrowed some money from relatives. But even that is going to run out soon."

The war has also driven out of business exporters who used to buy the turbans from the Bengal villagers and send them to Afghanistan.

As prayers for peace go out from across the world, they are a little more fervent in one district of Bengal where a distant war has charred scores of lives.

Indo-Asian News Service

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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