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Biharis


Biharis migrants from Bihar to East Bengal before and after the partition of India in 1947. The communal riots in Bihar immediately before and after the partition led to a large-scale migration of the Muslims to East Bengal from Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. As muhazirs, the Biharis were rehabilitated in East Bengal during Pakistan period. However, during the war of liberation of Bangladesh most Biharis sided with Pakistan. One of the problems that Bangladesh faced after liberation was to manage the affairs of the Biharis who opted for Pakistan.

There were more than a million non-vernacular (Urdu speaking) non-locals in Bangladesh. Bangladesh gave them the option to decide their political identity and granted citizenship to more than six lakh people who opted to remain as citizens of Bangladesh. But about half a million Biharis with option for Pakistan registered their names with the International Committee of Red Cross. Initially, Pakistan accepted over a lakh Biharis for repatriation, and most of them got repatriated to Pakistan. Many of the remaining Biharis after failing to obtain repatriation officially deserted their camps and managed to leave Bangladesh for unknown destinations. At present about two lakh twenty thousand stranded Biharis live in 81 camps spread out in different parts of Bangladesh. [Khurshida Begum]