Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Partition and the (Un)Making of the ‘Bengali Hindu’ Identity: India and East Pakistan in the 1950s

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

This paper will problematize our understanding of partition-related refugee movement by focusing on Bengali Hindus who found themselves in East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh) after 1947. They reacted to partition diversely, depending on their caste, class, gender and occupational background. All of these factors shaped their decisions of (or against) migration to India. For many, who ‘chose’ to move to West Bengal, the border crossing was only the beginning of their lives as migrants. Depending on their caste and class positions, they were allowed to enter Calcutta or were sent to places like Andaman and Dandakaranya. For the Bengali Hindus staying back in East Pakistan, their religious, caste and linguistic identities shaped their negotiations with the government and the local population. The purpose of this paper will be to problematize the seemingly homogeneous categories of ‘Bengali Hindu refugee’ and ‘Hindu minority’ in the contexts of West Bengal and East Pakistan respectively. In other words, this paper will elaborate on how decisions of staying back as a minority or staying at a camp in Dandakaranya, spending years in the Sealdah station or getting a foothold in a squatter colony of Calcutta shaped the identities of millions of “Bengali Hindus” in ‘partitioned times’. 


 


 

Anwesha Sengupta

Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata, India

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2 - Partition and the (Un)Making of the ‘Bengali Hindu’ Identity: India and East Pakistan in the 1950s



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