About 4,000 flood-affected people from India have taken shelter in villages along the Lalmonirhat border in the last three days as flood situation worsened in the northern districts of the Indian state of West Bengal.
Incessant rain and rising water levels in the Dharla, Kaljani, Teesta and Torsa rivers forced about 10,000 people of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts of West Bengal to leave their houses, reports our Kolkata correspondent.
Marooned by flood water, many took refuge in the houses of villagers of neighbouring Bangladesh, which prompted the West Bengal government to express their gratitude to the Bangladesh government.
According to Rabindra Nath Ghosh, minister for North Bengal development under the government of West Bengal, around 4,000 flood victim Indians have taken shelter in Mogolhat union in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.
“If these people did not take shelter in Bangladesh, they would have been washed away [by flood water],” Rabindra told journalists over the phone yesterday.
He said two villages Jari Dharla and Daribas of Dinhata subdivision in Cooch Behar stood like islands in the Namsai river as water of the river increased sharply.
“It takes only 10 minutes to go to Bangladesh’s Mogolhat from these two villages,” said Rabindra, explaining why almost all the villagers of the two Indian villages took shelter in Mogolhat when flood water entered their houses.
Our Lalmonirhat correspondent adds, Ansar Ali, 44, a flood affected of India’s Jari Dharla village under Dinhata Police Station, said he along with three members of his family took shelter in a Bangladesh’s border village as their home was flooded.
Ansar opined that around 1,500-1,600 people from four Indian villages — Jari Dharla, Daribas, Nagortari and Badarkuti under Dinhata Police Station — took refuge in some villages under Mogolhat and Durgapur unions in Lalmonirhat on Sunday night.
But some were sent back to India by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on Monday noon, he said, adding that, “We will return to our houses after flood water recedes from our homes.”
“We are living in a house of Bangladeshi people in Chawratari village in Mogolhat union. We are also getting food from the house,” said Ansar Ali’s wife Dulali Begum.
Another flood victim from India’s Nagotari village, Alamgir Hossain, 48, said, “We have talked to our panchayat [member] and pradhan [chairman] over mobile phone, and they assured us that they would send dry food to us, but we didn’t get any food as of today [yesterday] noon.”
Abu Sufian, 48, a local in Chawratari in Mogolhat union, said thousands of flood affected people from four Indian villages have taken shelter in Chawratari, Karnapur, Badaitari and Kumar Para villages under Mogolhat union and Dighaltari, Choupathi and Durgapur villages under Durgapur union of Aditmari upazila.
“We helped the Indian flood affected people to go to safe places by boats on Sunday night,” he added.
Lt Col Ahmed Bazlur Rahman Hayati, commanding officer of 15 BGB Battalion in Lalmonirhat, said BGB men already sent back many Indian flood-affected people to their houses in the national security interest.
He added that many flood victims were given shelter by the Bangladeshis along the border on humanitarian grounds.
Rezaul Alam Sarker, acting deputy commissioner of Lalmonirhat, said he was unaware of the issue.