Work in Progress: Marichjhapi massacre refers to the forcible eviction in 1979 of Bangladeshi refugees on Marichjhapi Island in Sundarban, West Bengal, and the subsequent death of around thousands by police gunfire, starvation, and disease.
After the partition of Bengal, in the year 1947 many Hindu bangalees who fled East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and settled in West Bengal, were mostly upper and middle class. But the poor and the lower caste (“Namasudra”) refugees were aggressively sent to the “rocky inhospitable land” of Dandakaranya. In the year 1978, they started to arrive in Bengal in huge numbers particularly to settle in Sundarbans as proposed by the Udbastu Unnayanshil Samiti (UUS) leader. The then government: Left Front - discarded the refugees stating that they are not the citizens of West Bengal but India. In spite of all the scourges relating to their settlement, less than 50,000 of the refugees among them headed south and eventually settled in Marichjhapi, a place under Reserve Forest Act. On 24 January 1979, the Government of West Bengal clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC around the island of Marichjhapi. The police and the district administration started an economic blockade that turned out to be a failure. Then the government started forcible evacuation in May.
Today, it is impossible to trace the precise number of the people who died in this exercise - starting from the exodus from central India camps to settlement in Marichjhapi, the police eviction drive to going back to the camps.
This work explores the reenactments of the reminiscene as a part of visual documentation accompanied by existing materials and portraits of the real survivors . The intricate weaving of the facts and fictions, past and present enlightens several perspectives of the same narrative, forming a cryptic framework to be decoded by the viewers. As subjective documentary photography of a historical event, each visual has to be veracious enough to amplify the historical detail while retaining its ambiguity. Demonstrating the ineffability of photography through the resurrection of the event.