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Space, Place and Identity: An Appraisal of Some Discursive Treatments of the Marichjhapi Massacre

Paramita Purakayastha

All About Ambedkar: A Journal on Theory and Praxis, Volume 2, Issue 1, January-April, 2021, 27-34



Any scholarship on the post-’70s Bengal is incomplete without delving into the killings at Marichjhapi, where anything from 2 to 10,000 refugees from erstwhile East Bengal, mostly belonging to the Namashudra community, were killed by the police and extra-legal personnel in 1979 under the directives of the CPI(M) leadership. It may be argued that many members of the Namashudra community are reluctant to be categorized as Dalits, citing their Bengaliness, their own anti-caste reformation initiatives, and their relative prosperity and independence even as manual agriculturists in the erstwhile East Bengal (Lily Haldar). Nevertheless, the Marichjhapi massacre can unqualifiedly be classified as state repression against Dalits because of their effective position as avarnas, their close and unmediated ties to the land and them being recipients of savarna Left violence. In this paper, I study Deep Halder's Blood Island not only because it is the first oral history book in English on the subject containing interviews of the actual survivors and other participants, but also because of Halder's repeated identification with the BJP causes and the right-wing mouthpieces.

Paramita Purakayastha is an MPhil research scholar in the Department of English, Jadavpur University. Her areas of interest include poetry, critical theory, the State and the supernatural.



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