The Refugee Perspective

Drik intern Nabil Rahman gains top spot in “Clip of the Week” at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism New York, with his beautifully produced video “The Refugee Perspective”

by Nabil Rahman

The Muslim minority in Bihar, India migrated to East and West Pakistan after the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, a large number of the Urdu-speaking Biharis took sides with West Pakistan. After the Pakistani Army evacuated the new-born Bangladesh, the Biharis were left behind. Bangalis saw them as traitors, and refused to accept them as Bangladeshis. They were placed in dozens of refugee camps across the country. Meanwhile, Pakistan claimed that there weren?t much similarities culturally or historically with the Biharis other than a common language. They claimed to see no reason to accept such a large number of people. Even though, they are referred to as “stranded Pakistanis,” most of them have never been to Pakistan. The newer generations of Biharis in Bangladesh are slowly starting to lean more towards a Bangladeshi identity. But Urdu is spoken by most at the camp, and some of the newer generations are also trained to read it. There is no common consensus amongst the refugees. Some still want to go to Pakistan. But a growing number of people just want to become officially recognized as Bangladeshis and enjoy the same privileges as everyone else.
Produced for DRIKNews
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Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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