'When the house of history is on fire, journalists are often the first-responders, pulling victims away from the flames. Deep Halder is one of them.' - Amitava Kumar In 1978, around 1.5 lakh Hindu refugees, mostly belonging to the lower castes, settled in Marichjhapi an island in the Sundarbans, in West Bengal. By May 1979, the island was cleared of all refugees by Jyoti Basu's Left Front government. Most of the refugees were sent back to the central India camps they came from, but there were many deaths: of diseases, malnutrition resulting from an economic blockade, as well as from violence unleashed by the police on the orders of the government. Some of the refugees who survived Marichjhapi say the number of those who lost their lives could be as high as 10,000, while the-then government officials maintain that there were less than ten victims. How does an entire island population disappear? How does one unearth the truth and the details of one of the worst atrocities of post-Independent India? Journalist Deep Halder reconstructs the buried history of the 1979 massacres through his interviews with survivors, erstwhile reporters, government officials and activists with a rare combination of courage, conscientiousness and empathy.
May 25, 2019  |  192 pages
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