Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Post-Partition Dalit Refugees and Politics of Rehabilitation in West Bengal

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

The partition of the Indian subcontinent killed thousands of people and displaced millions, for whom the experience of displacement defined their subsequent existence on both sides of the international boundary. In case of Bengal, the Hindus displaced from the newly-created East Pakistan came in phases to take shelter in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura. Most of the refugees who came after 1950 were lower caste, poor, cultivators lacking any ‘social capital’. Therefore, they were compelled to take shelter in the makeshift refugee camps after crossing the border. And from there they were later dispersed to Andaman Island and Dandakaranya. Very often their community networks and support became important tools of sustenance as state assistance was inadequate. The present paper intends to discuss the lives, experiences, memories, and agencies of the Dalit refugees stationed in various camps in West-Bengal between 1950 and 1964. The paper will explore how the practices of the state had impinged on the production of their identities and shaped their politics to contest the government rehabilitation plan that would eventually see them geographically dispersed across the vast subcontinent.


 

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

Victoria University of Wellington, India

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