Remembering Marichjhapi Massacre, 1979

I am thankful to some of my Dalit friends for bringing about awareness of this terrible incident in our recent history. In particular, I am thankful to Shri Anoop Kumar and his Insight – Young Voices magazine for highlighting it’s anniversary. There is also a Bengali multi-part documentary on YouTube that one may watch.

If one must chart a chronology and from what I have read thus far, the following series of events reveal themselves –

1. The partition of Hindusthan which brought Muslim majority West and East Pakistan into existence proved to be extremely traumatic for Hindu residents of these alienated parts.

2. A series of riots that amounted to exercises in ejection of Hindus from East Pakistan (and of course West Pakistan) brought about the problem of refugees from East Pakistan. The problem involved their accommodation in the Hindu land.

3. The issue of accommodating Hindu refugees from the East in Hindusthan seems to have become a political football with the powers that be at the time – The Congress party and the Communists.

4. A good share of these refugees seem to have been accommodated within not just the new state of West Bengal (in Hindusthan) but also the neighboring states.

5. Under pressure from their local Bengali constituents, the Left Front – Communists seem to have devised a strategy to pressurize the then ruling Congress party to ensure that all (East) Bengali refugees are given land within the state of West Bengal.

6. Buckling under such pressure the Congress party appears to have earmarked certain areas including the Sundarbans forests for the refugees.

7. However, when the inflow of refugees into West Bengal, mainly from Dandakaranya started; a change in the ruling dispensation occurred with the Congress losing and the Communists forming the new Government.

8. Power already in their grasp, the Communists seem to have lost interest in the refugees – by now flowing into the state.

9. In quick succession that includes the Communists’ rejection of any settlement claims with regards to the refugees that they had a major hand in bringing into the state and the refugees refusal to comply with any ejection process – triggers the planned massacre.

A later twist – Referenced here and here

I mentioned earlier that this incident was referenced in a Dalit youth magazine. This is mainly because Dalit ideologues see the refugees as mainly Namasudras of the Ati-Shudra Castes of the Bengal province. This group is reported to have been quite assertive politically and this includes alliances with Muslims in undivided Bengal, against so-called upper Caste Hindu landlords.

The throwback in the narrative is to perceived commonalities between untouchable Castes and Muslims that allowed for such easy alliances. Then, as it is seen as self-evident, now.

(I have, in my discussions with Dalit ideologues rejected any such alliance as lasting and have asserted that these are in fact harmful to Dalits themselves)

Surprisingly whilst rightfully taking to task a Bengali bhadralok (mainly composed of Brahmana and Shudra – Kayasthas & Vaidyas) dominated Communist organization for the massacre, Dalit ideologues unforgivably forget to point even an accusing finger toward East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) Muslims for hounding out their “natural comrades-in-arms”, namely the Namasudras. On the other hand they have failed to acknowledge that the vast majority of refugees of all Castes including the Namasudras were accommodated in the Hindu country.

While we remember those killed by the Communists, it is important to remind anti-Hindu ideologues of inconvenient facts too.

– Namaste

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