In Bangladesh, there is a growing protest movement by the people called Beharis, more than two million of whom consider themselves as Pakistanis, stranded in the east when that region became Bangladesh.
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Background: In Bangladesh, there is a growing protest movement by the people called Beharis, more than two million of whom consider themselves as Pakistanis, stranded in the east when that region became Bangladesh. The Beharis received their name because they came from the Indian state of Behar in 1947 to settle in East Pakistan. But the demonstrations have made it clear they consider themselves ethnically and culturally part of Pakistan and are demanding the Islamabad government repatriate them.
SYNOPSIS: The biggest demonstration took place on Sunday (23 March) to coincide with the celebration of National Day in Pakistan. More than two and a half million have been repatriated in the last seven years, but Pakistan is now reluctant to take those still in Bangladesh. The Islamabad government says they are neither former government employees of an undivided Pakistan, nor do they have relations living in Pakistan. The Beharis, on the other hand, claim they have been targets of hostility which had made it impossible for them to integrate into Bangladesh society.
Many of the Beharis live in vast camps outside Dacca. A number of serious fires in recent weeks have left hundreds homeless. This is seen as fuelling their demands for repatriation.