Refugees and the Indian State

Haimanti Roy

in Partitioned Lives

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780198081777
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199081875 | DOI:
Refugees and the Indian State

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This chapter examines the Indian state’s relief and rehabilitation policies in West Bengal to argue that, in addition to being a patchwork of contingent and ad hoc solutions, such policies and the public discourse surrounding them constructed a paradoxical figure of the Bengali refugee: heroic but lazy, able to abandon their homeland but parochial about rehabilitation outside the boundaries of West Bengal, an economic migrant under the cloak of a refugee, shorn of agency yet subversive. In the eyes of the Indian State, the refugees from East Pakistan remained a ‘problem child’ whose path to self-reliant citizenship was handicapped not because faulty policies but partly due to the illegitimacy of such claims and partly due to the very ‘nature’ of the Bengali refugee. Such constructions stemmed partly from the official perception Bengal Partition had not entailed large-scale violence and consequently did not warrant permanent migration of refugees who could claim victimhood.

Keywords: Bengali; refugee; rehabilitation; relief; B C Roy; Nalini Ranjan Sarkar; Symaprasad Mookerjee; Indian State; West Bengal; Andaman Islands

Chapter.  13746 words.  Illustrated.

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