Story of man-eaters of Sunderban.
One of the biggest massacre done by Communist Government Of West Bengal in 1978-79.
About 41 years ago, thousands of Bangladeshi hindu refugees (mostly dalits/OBCs) were killed in a police firing and the starvation because of economic blockade on Marichjhapi island in West Bengal’s Sundarbans.
Background -
After Partition, several Dalit and lower caste Hindus decided to stay back in the then East Pakistan because their leader Jogendranath Mandal, a minister in the East Pakistan Cabinet, had assured them security.
But when during 1970-1971 when the murderous West Pakistani army started a genocidal pogrom against the Bengali-speaking people in East Pakistan, mainly Hindus. Lakhs of Bengali Hindus started migrating to WB/India due to religious and social persecution.
Migration & Becoming Refugees -
These migrants were mostly poor, marginal farmers and people engaged in petty vocations in East Pakistan and were mostly Dalits and OBCs. Bengali Hindu refugees were encouraged to settle down in WB, Assam and Tripura.
But these states weren't able to bear the burden of such a huge number and the Union Government decided to settle the refugees in Dandakaranya.(MP, CG, MH, OD). The conditions were harsh there, but the Union Government promised loans and other aid,
refugees were unhappy with the living conditions in Dandakaranya, due to temporary arrangements and harsh climate conditions.
Dirty politics of Communist for vote bank -
During 1960s communist came in support of these refugees & demanded to settle them in WB, again in 1970s refugees migrated to WB after promise made to them of resettlement from 'Commies' if the come in power.
Jyoti Basu wrote to PM Nehru and CM of Bengal demanding that islands of Sunderban used for resettling refugees. As a result CPM came to power in WB in 1977. By 1978 lakhs of refugees were settled in Sunderban
and started livelihood there in the hope that Left Front govt in will facilitate their rehabilitation. They set up beedi-making units, carpentry workshop, a bakery, a hosiery unit, a secondary school and a cooperative for farming and fishing.
However the communists did a complete U-turn. After coming to power, they declared there was no space left in WB for refugees. They said those who had returned from Dandakaranya and other parts of the country would have to return where they come from.
The rulers let loose the state police and their cadres to harass and evict the refugees. CPM leaders led a campaign alleging that the settlers were Hindu hardliners who will establish Hindu dominance in the Sunderbans and drive out Muslims from there.
Govt Sponsored Massacre -
By beginning of 1979 police and CPM cadres started going to Marichjhapi and ordering the settlers there to leave, but when settlers refused cops and cadres imposed an economic blockade on the island.
After more than a week of blockade, with stocks of water, food, medicines and baby food running dry, they were forced to eat even grass to survive and many children started dying of green dysentery. The desperate and starving refugees decided to brave the blockade
and sail to Kumirmari to procure supplies on the night of 29 January 1979.  Next day in market fight broke out with the cops and refugees. The cops fired at them about a dozen were killed. Cops threw away their bodies into the crocodile-infested waters of the Korankhali river.
On the morning of 31 Jan 1979, women rowed out from Marichjhapi in boats, police rammed their mechanised boats into the women’s boats. The women jumped into the water and swam away. The cops even fired into the water and killed some of them
rest were found a few days later in a forest in another island and all said they had been repeatedly raped by cops and communist cadres. A roar of protest rose from the shores of that island and the refugees started brandishing lathis, choppers and whatever they could get
That was the signal for the police and CPM cadres to land in Marichjhapi and fire at, molest, rape and kill the refugees and looting them.  According to survivors the police did not even spare kids BW 5-12 cops and cadres pulled them out of the school and decapitated them.
Eyewitness says Countless Were killed, Many Raped in just 1day at Marichjhapi and their bodies thrown in to river which became the main reason for the Tigers of Sunderban becoming man eaters.
The survivors fled to other parts of the state and many are now settled in the North and South 24 Parganas districts of Bengal, living their lives in misery and worse conditions.
Accounts of their sufferings are some times published in the media, but they have been largely forgotten in Bengal while few outside the state even know of their sad plight.
In Deep Halder's book, Blood Island: An Oral History of Marichjhapi Massacre, the journalist turned author explores the truth behind the forceful eviction of the refugees by the communist government of Bengal.

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