Marichjhapi incident

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Marichjhanpi massacre

22°06′25″N 88°57′04″E / 22.1070°N 88.9510°E / 22.1070; 88.9510Coordinates: 22°06′25″N 88°57′04″E / 22.1070°N 88.9510°E / 22.1070; 88.9510
Parties to the civil conflict
Bangladeshi immigrants
Lead figures

Marichjhapi Massacre refers to the forcible eviction of around 1000 Bangladeshi Hindu refugees on Marichjhapi island in Sundarban, West Bengal, by the Communist-ruled Government of West Bengal in 1979, and the subsequent death of around thousands by police gunfire, starvation, and disease.


After the division of Bengal (during independence in 1947) along communal lines many Hindu Bengalees fled East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The first flow of refugees who were mostly the upper and middle class got easily settled in West Bengal. But the latter huge flow of poor Hindus [1]) couldn't be accommodated in Bengal. After initial resistance from the refugees they were forcibly sent to "rocky inhospitable land" of Dandakaranya (mostly in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh).[2][3]


In 1978 the refugees started to arrive in Bengal in huge numbers. But the Left Front meanwhile changed its policy (after forming government) on refugee settling and considered the refugees as a burden to the state, as the refugees were not the citizen of West Bengal but India.[2] An approximately 150,000 almost all of Dandakaranya refugees arrived (where most of them were deported back).[3] In the meanwhile approximately 40,000 refugees went south and camping for few months in Hasnabad settled in Marichjhapi (renamed by them as "Netaji Nagar"), a protected place under Reserve Forest Act.[4] The left government considered that an unauthorized occupation of reserved forest land. The government tried to pursue them to return to their respective place, but with little effect. 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. Thirty police launches started patrolling the island,[4] preventing anyone from providing food or water to the residents of the island. On 31 January, the police opened fire on the settlers of the island when the settles attacked a police camp with traditional weapons.[5] After 15 days Calcutta High Court ruled that "The supply of drinking water, essential food items and medicines as well as the passage of doctors must be allowed to Marichjhapi".[6]

After the failure of economic blockade the left government started forcible evacuation in May.[7] The media were barred from entering the area on that day. It has been alleged that under the orders of the left government, the police launches dumped the dead bodies in water, while many others drowned while they were trying to flee.[5] The survivors were then sent back to Dandakaranya. Some of them were settled in Marichjhapi Colony near Barasat while others rehabilitated themselves in the shanties near railway tracks in Sealdah.[8] Some of the survivors resettled themselves in Hingalganj, Canning and nearby areas.[9]

The death count was never confirmed. Official statistics put the deaths due to firing at two, but multiple independent sources put the total deaths between 500 and 1000.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pramanik, Asim (23 March 2014). "1979 Marichjhapi killings revisited". Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Chowdhury, Debdatta (2011). "Space, identity, territory: Marichjhapi Massacre, 1979". The International Journal of Human Rights. 15 (5): 664–682. doi:10.1080/13642987.2011.569333.
  3. ^ a b Mallick, Ross (2007). Development Policy of a Communist Government: West Bengal Since 1977. Cambridge University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780521047852.
  4. ^ a b Mallick, Ross (February 1999). "Refugee Resettlement in Forest Reserves: West Bengal Policy Reversal and the Marichjhapi Massacre". The Journal of Asian Studies. 58 (1): 104–125. doi:10.2307/2658391. JSTOR 2658391.
  5. ^ a b "Controversies that dogged the pragmatic chief minister". The Telegraph. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  6. ^ "The Tale of Marichjhapi :Review of the book "Marichjhapi chhinna desh, chhinna itihaash"". Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  7. ^ Jalais, Annu (23 April 2005). "Dwelling on Morichjhanpi". Economic and Political Weekly: 1757–1962.
  8. ^ Mitra, Sukumar (6 July 2011). "গণহত্যার সুবিচার হবে!". The Sunday Indian. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  9. ^ Mitra, Shyamalendu (3 August 2011). "তিন দশক পরে মরিচঝাঁপির ফাইল ফের খুলল রাজ্য". Anandabazar Patrika. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  10. ^ Bhattacharya,, Snigdhendu (25 April 2011). "Ghost of Marichjhapi returns to haunt". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved 5 August 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mandal, Jagadish Chandra. Marichjhapi: Naishabder Antarale. Sujan Publications.
  • Sengupta, Sukharanjan (2010). Marichjhapi Beyond & Within. FrontPage Publications.