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Refugees helped themselves in 1971 war

By Asraful Huq

DHAKA, March 09, 2015 (BSS)- Being refugees themselves, the
selfless volunteers imbued with the spirit of service to helpless
people devoted themselves to the task of bringing psychological
peace to the one crore Bangladeshis and keep them healthy just
after the nine-month long War of Liberation began in 1971.

The volunteers dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to
building peace for the future, reconstructing life out of the
ashes of the appalling events which began in March 1971 and
compelled millions of peaceful citizens to leave their homeland
and take shelter in India.

Refugees formed an organisation tilted Bangladesh Volunteer
Service Corps (BVSC) with the main purpose of reorganizing the
people who escaped the atrocities of Pakistani occupation force
and their local collaborators.

The corps was formed at 160 camps in West Bengal, Tripura,
Assam and Meghalaya. It was organized by prominent citizens and
leaders from Bangladesh.

An international organization War and Want donated 20,000
pound (3.59 lakh rupee) to carry out activities of BVSC. Mamun Al
Rashid was the executive director of the organisation while
Rahmat Ali was Chairman. The then Indian government and different
voluntary organizations also helped the BVSC.

According to publications of BVSC, it helped the camp
authorities in maintaining law and order, strengthening the
refugees psychologically, providing protein to the children and
sick people, cleaning the camps and keeping those healthy, giving
training to men and women on cottage industry and crafts, holding
cultural and educational programmes.

Noted historian Professor Dr. Muntassir Mamoon in an article
"Saronarthider Protishthan" (Volunteer's Organisation) in his
edited book "Muktijuddher Chhinna Dalilpatra" narrated the role
of BVSC in reconstructing lives of the refugees.

Bangladesh has a 2,000 km international border with four
Indian states and about one crore people took refuge there when
the War of Liberation broke out in 1971. Tripura, which has an
856 km border with the neighbouring country, accommodated 16 lakh
refugees when the state's population was 15 lakh. Tripura was the
war headquarters of the Liberation War.

Thirty lakh (three million) people sacrificed their lives for
independence. Bangladesh emerged as an independent country on
December 16, 1971.