Farzana Banu Shirin (Syedpur, Bangladesh)

Where I came from

Farzana considers herself a Bangladeshi from Syedpur with ancestors from Bihar. Syedpur was a railway town that grew around a rail factory built by the British in the 1870s.

Many Biharis were brought from India to work on the railways. Bihar was a very dry province and lacked opportunities. People travelled to the jute mills of Kolkata and the rail factory of Syedpur to find work – for Biharis, those were the two poles of migration in those days.

Our family is originally from Mungher in Bihar. My grandfather was a railway employee and we had relatives here in Syedpur.

Syedpur was very much a Bihari town as most people working at the rail factory were from Mungher.

There used to be an easy-going relationship between those who lived in Syedpur and those who lived in Bihar – they had many family and cultural connections. However, Syedpuris too felt the terrible impact of Bengali discrimination after 1971. Syedpur is the town in Bangladesh which has the highest proportion of Urdu-speakers.

Railway track

Railway route


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