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Bengali settlers in the Andaman Islands: the performance of homeland

Carola Erika Lorea
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The 1947 Partition of India triggered one of the major flows of forced migration in the history of humanity. Dominant narratives on the history of Partition describe the exodus primarily as a wave of dispossessed Hindus migrating from Pakistan to India, and an opposite flow of Muslim migrants crossing the Indian border to reach Pakistan. After seventy years since Partition, the long echoes of loss and displacement are still impacting the lives of many, and several alternative histories of the open wounds of Partition are yet to be written. The story I present in this article concerns the policies of relocation of Bengali Hindu refugees. Although often discussed as a homogeneous community with a clear religious affiliation, numerous caste- and religion-based subcultures are clustered under the label ‘Bengali Hindu’ refugees. The Partition of Bengal resulted in a massive flow of migrants from East Bengal that continued in steady waves for several decades. West Bengal became the smallest and most overcrowded state of an independent India: an estimated number of six million refugees entered between 1947 and 1971. www.iias.asia/the-newsletter/article/bengali-settlers-andaman-islands-performance-homeland