Report on

The Creative Writers’ Workshop On Forced Displacement of Population


Deepti Mahajan and Samir Kumar Das


This initiative was made possible by the support and collaboration of WACC and NIP. This report is the result of  A Creative Writers’ Workshop on Forced Displacement of Population held in Darjeeling (West Bengal) from 6 to 10 November 2003.


December 2002


Published by:

Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group

5B, Mahanirban Road,

Kolkata – 700 029

West Bengal, India

Telephone: 91-33-24640079



Printed by:

Timir Printing Pvt. Ltd.

43 Beniapukur Lane,

Kolkata – 700 014




Section One

The Proceedings

Section Two

Participants’ Notes

Section Three

The Programme

Section Four

List of Participants



The Creative Writers’ Workshop on Forced Displacement of Population -perhaps the first of its kind in South Asia, was held in Darjeeling (West Bengal, India) from 6 to 10 November 2003 and was only part of a larger project on ‘Media and Displacement’ that Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (heretofore CRG) has successfully completed in the current calendar year. While the first part of the project made an attempt at auditing mainly the mainstream media and its coverage on forced displacement of population from the perspective of human rights, justice and democracy, the second part promises to bring out a source book on the creative writings of any particular community of victims. As the essential first step, three cases of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s northeast and West Bengal were selected and audit reports based on these three case studies have been prepared. A careful comparison of these three case studies is expected to enrich our knowledge about the victims and evolve diverse media strategies in order to cope with the problem of forced migration. These reports are now waiting for their publication. We have also requested some of our colleagues to collect specimens of creative writings — both fictional and non-fictional, by the Bhutanese refugees now exiled in Nepal for more than ten years and the publication of the source book is now being finalized. Publication of this report on the Workshop – apparently, the most important third part, therefore marks the beginning of a series of publications based on the project.


            The Workshop was organized with a few key objectives in mind: Its first and perhaps the most fundamental objective was to bring the victims of forced displacement into the centre-stage of public discourse and make them an integral part of the civil society. The task is by no means easy for it is seldom one of merely adding them up to the already existing list of its more widely known constituents. It is interesting to see how their incorporation also brings about a significant change in the terms of public discourse and make the civil society unrecognizably distinct from the one that exists now. The Workshop deliberated on how the entry of the victim unsettles the settled nature of its existence and how the dominant narratives perpetrated and circulated through such processes as reporting and their administration, feel particularly threatened as soon as the question of refugee rights is raised and discussed. 


            As a corollary to the first, its second objective was to see how the very act of reporting and writing pushes the victim aside and how appropriate writing and reporting strategies could be evolved with a view to enhance their dialogic and communicative skill. Creativity in writing therefore marks a departure and is construed to mean the transcendence of their victim-hood. The Workshop did not look upon the victims merely as victims, but as potentially conscious, rights-bearing agents who continuously communicate in diverse and hitherto imponderable ways and thereby remake and break many of the established forms of communication, notwithstanding their handicaps, subjection and victim-hood. It in short sought to capture the dual nature of their existence. Thus, Urvasi Butalia — for one, disapproved of the commonplace tendency of privileging the fiction in the established hierarchy of creative writings, while Ranabir Samaddar in his valedictory address showed how even at the ‘lowest depths of victim-hood’ the victims find different routes of agency. Samaddar also argued that any attempt at defining creativity and identifying it with any particular route or form of communication is ‘a sure recipe for disaster’. Creativity is implicated in the constant experimentation with the varieties of communication forms.


            The third objective of the Workshop was to examine how the so-called binaries between the national and the regional/local, the mainstream and the periphery, the English-language media and the vernacular media are embedded in the existing hierarchies of power and to create and explore — if possible, the space for what we call, the alternative media. Creation of an alternative space therefore cannot but be a political act. It is a space where the victims tell us what Richard Rorty calls, ‘their long, sad and sentimental story’ that does not merely enrich our understanding about them but ‘move us to action’. Human rights culture is all about those ‘long, sad and sentimental stories’ and how they are woven and told in order to strike the right chord in our hearts and evoke the appropriate sentiments and the Creative Writers’ Workshop was only a small yet significant step towards that direction.


            Apart from the inaugural session, the second, third and fourth days were organized around the themes of reporting, writing and editing respectively. There is little doubt that each one is inextricably linked up with the other. The running thread that sutured the themes of these three days was of course the victim’s right to communicate and the discussion in the last business session was initiated around it. The last day included a comparatively longer session on the participants’ open and free assessment and evaluation of the Workshop. As part of its policy of facilitating and encouraging free and open discussion, CRG does not record the proceedings.


            We owe a special word of gratitude to Pradip Thomas of WACC and Kamal Prasad Niroula of NIP for their active encouragement and support and to Ranabir Samaddar for his precious and thoughtful advice. I also thank my coauthor — Deepti Mahajan of Lady Sriram College, New Delhi for having agreed to serve as the rapporteur and prepared the materials for this publication. Since CRG works as a group and is keen on retaining its group character, I do not want to thank and thereby embarrass my colleagues — all of whom were pressed into action in some way or the other, as part of what always turns out to be a very efficient crisis management team. I also take the opportunity of thanking Ayan for rendering excellent computer assistance. Lapses, if any, are however ours.        

Samir Kumar Das


Section One


The Proceedings

Inaugural Session: November 6, 2003

Speaker: K. G. Kannabiran


The inaugural session of the workshop was chaired by Ranabir Samaddar. He informed that the workshop was conceived at the time of a discussion with the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) based in London. He requested Pradip Kumar Bose — President, MCRG to deliver the welcome address. Bose said that the workshop was CRG’s first attempt at bringing together an inter-state group of scholars and activists working on media and displacement, peace and questions of autonomy. CRG, he said, intends to make such events an annual feature, and was looking forward to a stimulating workshop in Darjeeling. He welcomed the participants after which the participants introduced themselves.


            Samir Kumar Das gave an introduction to the workshop. The workshop is only a segment of a wider project, which comprises three segments. The first segment of the project is media audit. The objective here is to audit the media coverage on forced displacement in the light of peace and human rights. Three case studies have been taken up in this regard: Jammu and Kashmir, Northeastern India and West Bengal. The second segment consists of publications such as Refugee Watch and a proposed compendium of the works on forced displacement available in local languages. The creative writings of the Bhutanese refugees will be the theme of the first such compendium. The third segment is the Creative Writer’s Workshop. Das stated five main objectives of the Workshop. The first is to position the victims of displacement and forced migration at the centre of the ongoing public discourse and see what difference it makes in the writings that deal with the issues related to displacement. It is an attempt at finding out how the act of writing proposes to transcend victim-hood. The second objective is to deliberate on the dialogic skills of the victims. Viewed in this light, the Workshop does not restrict itself to what we often sarcastically call, victimology, a genre of writing that only portrays victimhood in all its incredibly blatant and abject forms. The third objective is to inculcate sensitivity towards human rights, in the minds of the media persons and activists involved in the field. Fourthly, the Workshop proposes to build and sustain a network of media practitioners. Lastly, CRG also intends to institute a full-fledged programme on the displaced person’s right to communicate through annual courses and workshops. Samir kumar Das also said that CRG wanted the workshop to be a forum for all, with everyone contributing to the sessions. He said that CRG was looking forward to opinions, suggestions and comments on the Workshop.


In the absence of K.G. Kannabiran at the time of the inaugural session, his address was read by Samir Kumar Das. His paper talked about how politics of religion had led to large-scale migration on the eve of and during the time of partition of India (1947). The paper set the tone for further engagement with issues by highlighting the concerns of human rights, state policy and humanitarian crisis that form the core of the discourse on forced displacement. The plight of forced migrants was vividly exemplified by the story of the woman of Indian origin, whose Pakistani passport rendered her stay in India illegal in the first place. She was too illiterate to understand the legal intricacies of the situation.


This was followed by Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury’s address on the ‘Perspectives on Displacement: News, Administration and the Victims’ Rights’. First of all, he referred to different kinds of displacement. The first category consists of refugees who cross international borders. They are covered by the UN Convention of 1951 and the subsequent Protocol of 1967. They have, at least, the legal benefit of being ‘refugees’ and entitled to the protection guaranteed by them. The other category is that of internally displaced persons (IDPs). They largely depend on the country’s government for assistance. He said that in cases of ethnic and religious discrimination particularly with state connivance, it is difficult for the displaced to obtain relief. Basu Ray Chaudhury stated that there is another dimension to forced displacement, which is migration due to large-scale “development” projects. In cases of displacement due to setting up of industries or construction of multi-purpose projects and dams victims are not treated as ‘refugees’. They fall in the ‘sovereign’ domain of the state and internal displacement is considered as its ‘internal’ matter.


Basu Ray Chaudhary emphasized that any discourse on forced displacement should be informed by the concerns of justice and human rights. He said that there are three major perspectives from which displacement is generally viewed. The first is the perspective of news. There are some inherent flaws in the way displacement is usually looked at by the media. Judgments about what constitute news are invariably governed by numbers and displacement of a small group does not receive any serious media-attention. Also, the media does not sustain reportage of displacement and follow up the news. From prominent space on the first page, the news recedes to a few column inches in the inside pages and eventually disappears. There is also the problem of editorial intervention and manipulation as the media has to work more often than not under political compulsions. The second perspective, he said, is that of the administration. Within the ambit of the state, Basu Ray Chaudhary  included the state, government and human rights and relief organizations. For the state, displacement is a law and order problem, he said. Displacement brings in its wake, opposition and resentment from local inhabitants and adds pressure to the local economy. In such a situation, the state’s first and foremost concern is to restore order, and portray the situation as normal and under control to both the media and the electorate. If refugees come from across the border, foreign policy imperatives and strategic concerns guide the government’s response. Basu Ray Chaudhury cited the example of the inflow of the Chakma refugees from Bangladesh to India. He added that while studying the role of relief and human rights organizations, one must bear in mind that these organizations do not work in a vacuum and depend on the host country in more ways than one. For instance, he said, in 1997, there were times when the rations to the Chakma refugees were discontinued by state authorities. The organizations thus became helpless. These were hard measures being applied by the Indian state to push them back to Bangladesh. Also, some organizations were not allowed to oversee relief work in Tripura. Local and vernacular dailies gave some converge to the issues and the trend was followed by other newspapers also. These problems must be seen in the context of the dynamics of the state’s relations with these organizations. Many a time, organizations are directly financed by the government or finances are cleared and monitored by it. The third perceptive is perhaps the most important but usually neglected. This is the perspective of the victims. The victims of forced displacement are traumatized and in most cases, can hardly put their lives together. They need counseling and support. Basu Ray Chaudhary opined that it is important to talk to them, share their grief and listen to their narratives (which may, in some cases be exaggerated and overblown). While writing about displacement, their views on the violation of their rights, dispossession and displacement must be given due importance. It is, in fact, very difficult to provide relief and rehabilitation and formulate alternative strategies without taking this perspective into account. Referring to the example of the Chakma refugees again, he said that the refugees’ perspective was different from the kind of reports that appeared in the press. Only a few reports brought out the suffering that the refugees were going through. Similarly, instead of reporting about the internally displaced in Burma/Myanmar, South East Asian newspapers choose to highlight the economic achievements of the country. Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhary’s address gave an introduction to the various dimensions of migration.


After the address, Ranabir Samaddar introduced into the discussion, the notion of vulnerability. Vulnerability is a graded concept, he said. He said that in the next few days, the group needed to engage with issues such as the right to information and the right to be informed. At the heart of the debate lies the question of justice: What is justice and who needs justice? He also emphasized the need to break free of the attitude of considering the state as the parent of society that only provides relief and succour to the victims.


The inaugural session came to a close with the vote of thanks proposed by Subhas Chakraborty. He thanked the World Association for Christian Communication especially Dr Pradip Thomas, the Nepal Institute of Peace NIP), the resource persons, participants, media persons, West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation in general and  the Darjeeling Tourist Lodge in particular.


Session One: November 7, 2003

Day Two: Media Audit

Speakers: Subir Bhaumik, Pamela Philipose & Kalpana Kannabiran


The session: “Writing Displacement: Creativity versus Objectivity” formatted in the form of a debate was chaired by Pradip Bose. The speakers included Subir Bhaumik, Pamela Philipose and Kalpana Kannabiran. Subir Bhaumik began by saying that he was uncomfortable with the formulation of “Creativity vs. Objectivity”. He said that experience led him to believe that bias and truth are issues in reporting not creativity. He criticized the tradition of deploying writers and literary heavyweights to cover news stories, followed amongst others by the vernacular Bengali media. Addressing the broader dynamics of news writing, he referred to the advent of “feel-good journalism” and criticized the elitist tone of reporting employed by some mainstream national dailies. He added that even BBC, which now has an online edition, at times, falls prey to the seductiveness of the Indian market. An example which he quoted in support of his statement, was a story on the need for ‘love zones’ (where couples can enjoy their share of privacy) in Calcutta which he had vehemently refused to do, but was done by one of his colleagues. While writing on displacement, he said, a writer must follow the key principles of accuracy, analysis and authenticity. The emphasis should be on getting the facts right and reporting with adequate background. According to Bhamik, four tendencies are noticeable in media reportage of displacement. The first tendency is to judge the importance of a story, by the numbers involved. As he observes: “If the number of people involved is 200, pass it. If 10,000 watch it; if 20,000 report it”. For instance, when in 1986, the first batch of Chakma refugees of about a thousand people arrived in India, it was seen as just a small problem. The second tendency, Bhaumik feels, is to focus on violence and emphasize on what led to the displacement rather than the post-displacement situation. The third is a lack of storyline in reportage. Most stories in the electronic media are a sequence of bytes and clips, lacking investigation. Journalism is personality driven and the journalists have been reduced to byte soldiers. Bhaumik said that a journalist reporting a story on displacement pieces together a few random vox-pops, takes a byte from the collector and considers his work done. There is no attempt at understanding refugee camp politics and what is going on behind the scene. He further addressed the question of why displacement doesn’t get place in the national newspapers and magazines. These publications are selling their audience/ readers to advertisers and therefore write for an audience with disposable income — the mobile Indian middle class. They are thus guided by the interest of this class and select their stories that cater to their palette. Subir Bhaumik feels that a lack of follow-up and a lack of professionalism are evident in the working of the media. Many national dailies and news channels do not have stationed correspondents or stringers in far-flung areas. Forty per cent of the total internally displaced population in India is in Assam. Through the regional editions in the area carry stories on displacement, these issues do not find mention in the main editions. He stated that when migration is due to ethnic/ religious strife, the community of the journalists covering the story at times comes to affect the reportage. The local press in Tripura, he informed, is largely Bengali-owned and therefore from amongst the tribal and Bengali refugee camps the latter get a better coverage. Due to the same reasons, internal displacement due to extremist attacks in Tripura, gets a highly biased coverage. According to Bhaumik, the biggest challenge before the media is to get accurate facts and figures. For this, he emphasized the importance of legwork and smart sourcing. A journalist he reiterated, must make an attempt to delve into humanitarian issues and keep away from ethnic bias. While reporting displacement from across the border, networking in areas across, gains importance. In conclusion, Bhaumik pointed to the media’s tendency of giving a direction to a story through chat-shows and discussions. Interview-driven stories, too, are affected by such problems.


Pamela Philipose, the second speaker, said that the media is a public space, a collective source of information and forms a network between the individuals and society. Its power arises from the right to expression and information. The media, she said, are themselves a battleground for contending viewpoints. However, “national interests” marked by the government are faithfully reflected rather than legal and humanitarian issues. According to Philipose, the Indian state does not use specific terms while dealing with forced displacement. Thus legal obligations are lost sight of and what follows are knee-jerk reactions and responses guided by the ideology of the party in power. Two unfortunate consequence of this, she said, are (a) there is hardly any ethical response and (b) a legal and rational framework for action is hardly available. In times of economic and social flux, the media should consciously further the right to know and the right to express. She feels that the media needs a value addition of mind and heart. Importance should be given to information and peripheral feedback, and issues should be handled sensitively, she explained. The media reportage either invisiblizes the victims as a mass of faceless people or visiblizes them as social and economic predators, thus fuelling prejudices and hardening attitudes. One important lacuna in reportage is the lack of background information. Ignorance exists at different levels, she said. Modern South Asian history with regard to some developments remains unwritten. There is, for example, no precise number available for people displaced during partition in 1947. History intrudes into the present, she added. For many the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 reenacted the partition riots many years after partition. At times, communal polarization and disturbances caused by it colour our perception of displacement. According to Pamela Philipose, the media needs to be made more sensitive to such issues. Creativity, she said, is rooted in facts. Writing must however, also acquire an ethical framework and a depth of creativity. Here, she feels, a writer can take something from literature. Literature has a depth of human sensitivity, which transcends time and space. Such writing is both relevant in time and free of time. Philipose said that there is a brief manifesto for all writing and a reporter needs to be conscious of this manifesto. Creativity means an accurate account of facts, which arouses empathy, she stated. Creativity suggests interesting ways of looking at situations. She quoted an example of the story of a canine crossing the LoC between India and Pakistan, and how the deeply suspicious nature of the two sides towards each other guided their responses to the dog’s presence. She concluded by saying that reporters can learn from such applications of creativity.


Kalpana Kannabiran was the next speaker. She interrogated our conventional understanding of displacement. She defined creativity as the crossing of disciplinary boundaries like, geography, sociology, anthropology, law, politics, so on and so forth. She said that a woman lives with the perpetual threat of displacement from her parental/marital home. In some cases, as in domestic violence, violence is internalized. She informed that one in every ten women lives with the threat of domestic violence. Women and children are often victims of violence within the family. Kalpana Kannabiran emphasized that the two most vulnerable groups include women and persons with disability. She supported her statement by quoting the instance of ill treatment of inmates in an asylum in Tamil Nadu. She also pointed to the proposal recently floated in one of the jails in Pune (Maharashtra) for preventing pregnancies due to sexual abuse of the women inmates through hysterectomy of those women who are between the ages of 15 and 50. She said that forced dispossession of land, forced eviction from rented land and forced performance of degrading work are all symptoms of displacement. She referred to the conditions of the scheduled castes and tribes in this regard. She also talked about the institutionalization of displacement in times of peace. Homelessness as a natural condition adversely affects the functioning of the civil society during peacetime as well. Kannabiran posed a question saying that we need to recognize whether we are talking about displacement from public spaces, livelihood, home, land and/or family. The country, she said, has been witnessing starvation deaths. Does starvation amount to displacement? She emphasized the need for expanding the paradigm of displacement to include these cases.


A discussion followed the speakers’ addresses. Zilkia Janer initiated the discussion. She said that the same facts can be used for writing different stories. The same was reiterated by Nesar Ahmad. He said that creativity, at times, compensates for good reporting and that a writer can use the same facts for writing very different stories. Reacting to Kalpana Kannabrian’s presentation, Samir Das brought in the discussion, concern for Potentially Displaced Persons. Sanjib Baruah talked about the experience of Mizoram where displacement, he said, has been taken as part of a process of transition. He added that if conditions in refugee camps are good, the possibility of people flocking there will not be unlikely. Commenting on the creativity versus objectivity debate, Ranabir Samaddar said that many good journalists have been romantic journalists. He said that even diary entries and poetry can be informative. Writing and reportage have brought forth the daily realities faced by the people. He gave the example of Edward Said’s work on dispossession in Palestine. Pradip Bose later added that even the Romantic Movement in English literature came from the growth of tabloid press.


While responding to the issues raised, Subir Bhaumik said that the forms of reporting vary and good feature- writing is a part and parcel of good reporting. Many good features begin with the micro issues and then delve into larger issues. He quoted the old maxim ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. He added reporting today has been undermined by market forces and the emphasis is on producing packages for readers. He feels that while talking about displacement, there is a space for all kinds of writing. Good reporters graduate as chroniclers of the times and then broaden their horizons. He reinforced the need for an extended paradigm of displacement and said that it is important for a journalist to spot issues that are emerging as problems. It is of significance to delineate issues and be clear about them and above all it is important not to get carried away by the romance of one’s act. Bhaumik complained that the new generation of journalists does not pay attention to research. He said that journalists in the electronic media, at times, get enough pictures but do not have enough information to back them. Good analysis is part of good journalism, he feels.


Pamela Philipose said that the compartmentalization of creativity and objectivity is false. The processes of fact-gathering are being affected by large trends such as ownership patterns, with fewer hands controlling the media and the emphasis on infotainment. She stated that selection of news is event-driven rather than subject-driven. The reader is always reacting to stories, but does not have an opportunity to assess them, she added. According to Philipose, early warning is a part of the ethos of journalism: the media is a siren, a memory bank and a pin to prick the conscience.


Kalpana Kannabiran stated that the vigour of analysis is central to research as well as media. A rights-based perspective should inform both, and both must emanate from a commitment to human dignity. A combination of creativity and reporting for Kannabiran, brought to mind pseudo-representation in popular cinema. She suggested that writers must include their own take on social justice in writings. The discussion also emphasized the need for more involved conversation between English and regional languages. Kannabiran also said that rehabilitation must be in accordance with the aspirations of the people.


Samir Das then highlighted two concerns. First, he said there is a danger involved in the dichotomy of credibility established through facts and figures and creativity. He also referred to the misplaced assumption of externality of truth and our belief that truth is something that exists ‘out there’. He referred to the partial and fractured nature of truths and truths held by specific communities of people. Secondly, he said that social history teaches that ‘belief in truth is truer than truth itself’. When the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, the right-wing militant groups believed that it was a Masjid that they had pulled down. They reportedly demolished it with the belief that the Masjid had come into being by way of destroying a temple at the birthplace of Lord Rama. It does not matter whether Rama was actually born there. The issue is immaterial. It is only that since most of the Hindus believe it, they want the Muslims to honour the belief rather than the truth. Credibility, Das said, cannot be conflated with truth. Sanjib Baruah emphasized the importance of a strategic vantage point and way of thinking in the post- Guternberg era with a visually literate generation. We need to see how and why the human rights perspective has been marginalized. Adding to what Baruah said, Ranabir Samaddar said that the history of newspapers is not more than 250 years old. The world of communication is segmented and we must remember that print only serves a part of it. Receptivity of people is of importance as is displayed by the example of Al Jazeera, which arouses inquisitiveness. There is a need to recognize the role of new hybrid forms of media, he said. An attempt should be made to invent new forms of communication to serve the purpose of justice. Zilkia Janer said that the crisis of journalism is also the crisis of literature and extends beyond mere news writing. Subir Bhaumik then reiterated his view that there exists a separate space for all kinds of writing. He said that forty percent of BBC Radio’s international audience is in South Asia and the news priorities are dictated by the market forces and what fits into the demands of the target audience. He also stated that films that deal with political issues have their own politics and sociology. Many such movies enjoy state patronage, he said. He cited the example of the film “Roja” which was shot in Chakrata military base, and therefore required cooperation from the state. The session came to a close after intense discussion and debate.


Session Two: November 7, 2003

Day Two: Media Audit

Speakers: Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Bhupen Sarmah

Sabyasachi B. R. Chaudhury (for Krishna Bandyopadhyay)


The session titled “Auditing the Media: Case studies” was chaired by Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty. It dealt with three case studies – Jammu and Kashmir, India’s Northeast and West Bengal.


Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal presented her paper on Jammu and Kashmir. She said that the media suit the interests of state players. The media, which record official history, for times to come, play to “national interest” and pitch the security forces against the armed insurgents as the ‘heroic versus the demonic’. The emphasis is on quantity of reports and the media sensationalizes violence. With regard to displacement, she said, the media tend to become deaf, dumb, and blind. Many media houses are sponsored by actors in the conflict. The editors, too, have their own political interests. With large-scale wars fought in 1965 and 1971 between India and Pakistan, displacement became a regular phenomenon on both sides. However it was highlighted in the press only in 1989 –90. Jamwal drew attention to the fact that the phenomenon of displacement was reported with communal overtones. She said that though it is true that some mosques were used to spread the message of “Azaadi” this was reported long after such instances had occurred thus increasing the threat perception. Initially, when the Pandit community held important positions, killings of Hindus were highlighted in the press. In due course of time Pandits were forced to migrate. This polarization in discourse led to greater fundamentalism, opined Jamwal. She said that there was large-scale migration from Poonch, Rajouri, and later also from Doda in Jammu. Doda, largely inhabited by illiterate people, had no easy accessibility to administration and the media. The lack of NGO-activism also found no media coverage. Even when relief was provided, it was irrelevant to the needs of the people. Relief provided was, at times seen as violation of the dignity of people. Displacement was covered by the media during the Kargil war, Jamwal informed. However, even in peacetime, there is rampant migration. During the Indo-Pak standoff in 2000, about hundred thousand people migrated, leading to unemployment, poverty and a rising number of restless young people.  The use of landmines has affected civilians in the state. Jamwal said de-mining has been a focus only along the border. Though the state has claimed completion of more than half of the de-mining that is required, there has not been much of progress. In fact, there has been no data collection on de-mining at the local level. Jamwal said that in the regions of Rajouri and Poonch, women have gone beyond their traditional roles. Women sometimes act as informers for the security forces/militants. She said that women find little place in the coverage of displacement in J & K. also there is clear lack of follow up. At the end she also raised a couple of questions: Should women be projected as victims? Should the media take on the mantle of activists?


Pamela Philipose asked, if positive reports related to displacement are done on a sustained basis. Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal said that the reports are not sustained. Interestingly, the reports are carefully timed and appear when the government is planning resettlement moves. Responding to Samir Das’s question on the performance of the non-English press, Janwal said that the non-English media become agencies of some militant organizations or security agencies. The press is often mired in the politics of “nation building” whether by the state or by the militants. Ranabir Samaddar said that through reportage, the media normalize certain trends that typify humanitarian disaster and discipline the consciousness of society. It is through the regular publication of the reports on displacement that the phenomenon loses its surprise element and acquires a certain degree of normalcy.


This discussion was followed by a summary of Bhupen Samah’s paper on the Northeast presented by Samir Das. According to Sarmah, Assam, which is home to eight major and other small ethnic groups, has seen displacement due to natural disaster, ethnic strife and industrial growth. There is strife between the Bodos and the tribals, and the Bodos and the immigrant Muslims etc. The region has also witnessed demographic change due to migration from Nepal and Bangladesh, he said. Development processes have uprooted communities and a large number of the displaced belong to marginal groups. Sarmah informed that nine dailies in Assamese are published form Guwahati. Asomiya Pratidin is the largest circulating local daily in Assamese. With regard to the electronic media, apart from Doordarshan, Assam has correspondents from the main national media organizations. Ethnic strife and related humanitarian issues have been covered well by the local dailies. The local media, to some extent, have portrayed the situation with regard to the displaced, though not in totality and with objectivity. Sarmah pointed to the lack of sensitivity on the part of the journalists, to the condition of the people. Illegal trafficking of young girls and child labor are problems that have greatly affected the region. Also, there has been rampant displacement of people from ancestral property. Sarmah said that since 1947, tribal people have been uprooted because of “development projects”. Both local and national press has not given coverage to such concerns.


Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhary, read Krishna Bandyopadhyay’s paper on West Bengal. According to her, religious identity had an important role to play during the partition. The dynamics of politics here are also governed by the governments in India and Bangladesh. Bandyopadhyay talked about local dailies form Calcutta and national and regional newspapers. She said that most of the reports in the press talk about geo-political and national security considerations. There are only a few reports that highlight human suffering.


After the presentations, Sanjib Baruah said that the early immigrants from Bangladesh arrived in the 1970s. Bangladeshis, he said, are now an important part of the construction industry in Assam. An Intelligence Bureau report put the number of Bangladeshis in Dimapur at two hundred thousand persons.


Session Three: November 7, 2003

Day Two: Media Audit

Speaker: K. G. Kannabiran


K. G. Kannabiran, the speaker for the third session, enriched the workshop with an account of his experiences in Indian in general and in the state of Andhra Pradesh in particular. He began his address by mentioning the recent incident of the abduction of the President of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), who after his release was allegedly killed by the police. The Naxalbari Movement has continued intensely since the past thirty-five years. Since 1968-69, arrests and encounter killings of Naxalites have been going on. The early years, according to Kannabiran, saw detailed accounts of killings in the press. However, after a few years, the killings became mere numbers for the press. Systematic investigation of encounters was initiated later. The Tarkunde Committee was set up. Morarji Desai persuaded a Congress Chief Minister to appoint Justice Baruah to enquire into an encounter. The press gave good coverage to the inquiry, Kannabiran said. The enquiry discredited police claims that the killings were encounters. During the Janata regime too, killings continued unabated. With the coming of NTR as the Chief Minister, better coverage was given to encounters. The state murders 250 people every year, toeing the line that naxalite activity is against the law. According to the APCLC, no one has the right to kill. The state may apprehend the person and continue proceedings. Kannabiran stressed the importance of a public enquiry. The APCLC has pushed for land reforms, increase in employment opportunities in rural areas and a stop to encounters. A political movement cannot be termed a problem, Kannabiran said. Here the issue is socio-economic in nature, it is not a law and order problem. The naxalite groups enjoy clout at the local level. But public reaction to the People’s War activities is very private, which is of no consequence in a democracy. Kannabiran said that it is important for human rights activists not to get involved in the politics of the human rights organization.


In the evening, a photo-exhibition was inaugurated in the main hall of the Tourist Lodge. The photographs shot by R. R. Srinivasan were introduced by the photographer. In his introductory remarks, Srinivasan pointed out that his photographs shot at the refugee camps unlike the commonplace photographs show the other of refugeehood. They show how people in spite of their plight and poverty, can smile and emerge as a force in the society.       


The participants were later given a briefing on the Participants’ Assignment Writings in the evening.


Session One: November 8, 2003

Day Three: Writing Displacement 

Speaker: Urvasi Butalia


The session on “Gender Sensitivity in Contemporary Indian Writing on Displacement” was chaired by Paula Banerjee. Banerjee introduced the speaker. Butalia said that creative writing is not just about fiction. In the hierarchy of writing, fiction is seen to be occupying a high position and it is imagined that fiction cannot be factual. She added that many works of fiction are experiential, for instance holocaust writing and writings about partition. There is a paradox between the position accorded to fiction and the questioning of its factual nature. Every stand that a writer takes is a political stand, she said. Neutrality is impossible to achieve. Every stand has a moral stance behind it. Displacement, Butalia said, is seen mostly as movement of a collectivity. It is not seen as an individual act. This hides the marginal individual nuances and complexities. Women too are talked of as a collectivity. An element of choice, she said, enters the decisions the displaced persons take. But it is for us to recognize the fear and insecurity that inform the choice, thus negating freedom of choice. She quoted the example of Lajwanti story, who when with her Muslim abductor in post–partition Pakistan was better fed than in India. She had to make the choice between staying on in Pakistan or coming back to her husband in India. In the post–partition era, many women refused to come back to their native homes. Search Committees were established to locate abducted women. The issue involved questions of citizenship, free movement and even arrest and detention. Many cases came up before courts during this time. It was ruled later that if an adult woman could prove her citizenship, the state would not coerce her. Camps for women were organized, to keep them away from any kind of coercion. These rulings, however, meant no help for the women. On the question of citizenship and women’s rights, Butalia said that a woman’s citizenship is mediated through her family. All laws on displacement are not based in the paradigm of patriarchy. The forces that are part of a violent conflict have an agenda for social change, for instance the Maoists in Nepal fight for good governance. These agendas do not touch partiarchy, she added. Women in conflict face harsh realties. A key strand here is rape. Also, a woman occupied with putting her home together, finds no space for expression of her feeling of loss. The first casualty in a conflict situation is information. Butalia said that it is the responsibility of a journalist to sensitively approach an issue. Taking the example of reportage of incidents of rape, Butalia said that in such cases a reporter need to bring in empathy and make conscious decisions about what to disclose and how to report. There is no easy equation between speech and freeing the victim from a painful experience, she added. Such incidents and experiences cannot be seen without empathy and sensitivity, she said. She also stated that it is true that recall of an event is coloured with who the victim is talking to and when.


During the discussion that followed, Samir Das talked about the conventional difficulties in demarcation of the public and the private. He said that the public space is governed by a set of established rules that emphasize objectivity, verification of facts, replicability etc.


Butalia reiterated that the meta-narrative of history and individual experiences are not exclusive. She said that the writer should also make a conscious and well thought-out use of words, when writing about sensitive issues. Subir Bhaumik stated that rape is often used as an instrument of state policy and such issues need to be reported with sensitivity.


Session Two: November 8, 2003

Day Three: Writing Displacement 

Speakers: Subhendu Dasgupta, Anirban Mukhopadhyay and Jagat Mani Acharya


The fifth session on “Creative Responses to Displacement: Participant’s Discussion on Glimpses on Writing in Local Languages”. During the session, Subhendu Dasgupta and Anirban Mukhopadhyay presented their papers on Bengali literature while Jagat Acharya talked about Nepalese and English works of the Bhutanese refugees.


Subhendu Dasgupta started by making a distinction between official and unofficial histories. He talked of a cultivated erosion of the topic of partition from Bengali literature. He also said that after 1971, the Bengali writers seemed to regain the moralist and ethical stance they had lost in terms of writing about communal issues. Giving examples from a wide spectrum of literature on partition Dasgupta gave an analytical over-view of Bengali writings. Anirban Mukhopadhyay, the next speaker, focused on poetry and prose writings by poets in Bengali. He pointed to the emphasis on Marxist grammar. He talked about the writings around the famine in 1943, and also the recital in displacement that could be seen since the 1940s.


Jagat Acharya’s presentation was based on a dossier of writings, poetry, government documents, photographs and paintings that he had compiled. The writings, revolving around the theme of displacement, captured the suffering of the displaced. The dossier comprised also photographs of camps and works of art done by the refugee children.


Commenting on the presentations on Bengali literature Samir Das said that the partition and the birth of an independent state were associated with a sense of Muslim assertion made in response to the strident Hindu domination over them. The Bengali Hindu intelligentsia had a stake in maintaining communal harmony because harmony often hid the unpalatable fact of domination. Deepti Mahajan said that Dasgupta’s distinction between official and unofficial history was closely related to what Urvasi Butalia had talked about in the previous session: micro-narratives getting lost in building a grand historical narrative. A writer has the power to get very different reactions from the collective conscience, on the same issue. This calls for bringing different strands of writing to the centre of political discourse. She said that this becomes even more relevant for literature in regional languages as it talks to people in their own language.


Session Three: November 8, 2003

Day Three: Public Lecture

Speaker: Urvasi Butalia


The next segment was chaired by Ranabir Samaddar. Urvasi Butalia spoke on “Media, Conflict and Displacement”. She said that the influx from Pakistan to India has led to a concentration of “displaced people” in Rajasthan. Their legal status is that of Hindu Pakistani citizens in India. They are not classified as refugees and only get a small allowance to live on. She explained how the status of a refugee becomes a desire in such situations. Also, refugees carry with themselves the hierarchies of their system, when displaced, she said. She referred to gender and caste as hierarchies that are carried along and prove difficult to be resolved. Butalia feels that there is a contradiction between the way the displaced persons see themselves and the way they are perceived by the community and the state. The media, she said tends to look at things as black or white, missing the greys that lie in between. Butalia brought out some specific experiences from the partition of India in 1947. She said that at a time, when widows were seen as a social outcaste, the widows in post-partition India needed immense psychological and material rehabilitation. In the 1980s, these widows organized a small demonstration for an increase in pensions.


R. R. Srinivasan later added that many internally displaced women in Sri Lanka are being pushed back into the high security zones without de-mining the areas. The basic infrastructure in the high security zones has been destroyed in years of fighting between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE and the security forces.


Session Four: November 8, 2003

Day Three: Film Showing


Two German films on immigrants in Germany were screened. The films were introduced by Manas Ray. He said the New German cinema has been a blend of documentary and fiction. The 1980s and 90s saw a portrayal of the “Cosmopolite” point of view.


The first film dealt with the Turkish community in Germany. It showcased Germany as an immigrant friendly country. The film focused on the choices that the Turks need to make, upholding their value system and question of return. It talked about the Turkish community groups and also Turkish-German cultural events organized to celebrate part German, part Turk culture. It dealt with the ways women attempt to negotiate space for themselves, while keeping Turk traditions alive. As Subhendu Dasgupta later pointed out, the film revolved around the living space of the immigrants and had a feel-good factor.


The second film was based on the monologue of a native woman and her remarks directed at an African sitting next to her in a tram. The woman, in her remarks, stuck to the wrongly perpetuated stereotype of the “African”. The film ended by the African, getting back at the woman by swallowing her ticket before the official checking for tickets reached her. Most others in the tram were a picture of silent passivity.


Subhendu Dasgupta said that the fact that both the films began in a tram, pointed to the progress of a journey for the protagonists. R.R. Srinivasan said that he feels that there has been no good documentary about displacement. This was followed by a session with Mr. Prabodh Jamwal on use of theatre for bringing about social change. He said that there is need for an effective theatre idiom in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The work of the Academy of Art, Culture and Literature has evolved a local theatre idiom. Theatre has been used to communicate with people on issues such as education and health. UNESCO has adopted one of such plays. He however added that theatre on border displacement is very limited.


During the discussion, Deepti Mahajan talked about the Augusto Boal Methodology of the Theatre Of the Oppressed and said that different forms of theatre can and should be effectively used to communicate on development issues.



Session One: November 9, 2003

Day Four: Editing and Reporting

Speaker: Subir Bhaumik, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, and Ranabir Samaddar


The session on “Politics of Editing” was chaired by Subhas Chakraborty. The first speaker was Subir Bhaumik who dwelt on the audiovisuals. He said that in the audio-visual media, good pictures make a story, adding that, at times, visuals lie due to the way they are edited or placed together and projected. Bhaumik stated that in India, the politics of editing starts with the management. Many editors and owners have their own political inclinations. Most organizations exercise great caution lest they should upset the government. The provision of access, which is at many times dictated by the government, is an important factor that influences media decisions. He said that the choice of menu is affected by political and economic compulsions. The journalist is expected to get his ideas approved by the organizations he is working with. Bhaumik opined that the choice of guests on talk shows and discussions on televisions give a certain direction to the story. The audience, he added, is able to see through these compulsions.


Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhary, the next speaker, concentrated on the print media. He said that the target readership makes an impact on the kind of stories a newspaper chooses to cover. The way a particular newspaper or periodical covers an issue also impacts the way a news-story is received. Another important point he stressed was that the headlines that accompany a news-story are at many times misleading, or do not present a clear and accurate picture, or are meant to sensationalize the issue under question. This, he said, is rampant in the press and is a problem that needs to be looked at.


Ranabir Samaddar spoke on the ethics and aesthetics of communication. According to him, it is a largely held view that activists do not communicate well with the media, but this statement needs to be interrogated. With the coming of new technology, the editors have come to enjoy an important position in the media. They decide the tone and importance of a story, he said. In this era of cold printing, there is a large space reserved for advertisements as well. He added that Frontier, published from Kolkata in its own way, was able to evolve a powerful, alternative way of editing. Political and social movements, he said, need narrow-casting rather than broadcasting. He emphasized ‘sourcing’ and responsibility in writing.


Deepti Mahajan said that the media concentrate on events rather than processes and therefore it would be right to say that the media are not activism- savvy, not the other way round. She asked Subir Bhaumik if the audience was really able to detect biases and also if a multiplicity of views helped in better understanding of issues. Bhaumik responded to the question by saying that the audience is not a monolith, so there are obvious differences in responses from different audience as well as their capability and will to receive information from different sources available. Bhaumik added that the media today has more managers than editors. He said that newspapers are now wary of having new editions fearing the rise of a powerful regional editor. Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal said that the situation becomes extremely complicated when media organizations enjoy patronage from agencies outside the media.


Session Two: November 9, 2003

Day Four: Editing and Reporting

Speaker: Samir Kr. Das


The next session was on “Victims’ Right to Communicate. It was chaired by Sanjib Baruah. The initiator was Samir Das. Das said that a few terms associated with the theme, need to be interrogated at the very outset. The first of these is: “Victim”. He said that “Victim” is not a monolithic category. All kinds of victims of displacement do not come from the same group. With regard to “Rights” there are two relatively distinct notions, he said. The first is human rights, that is to say, rights that we are entitled to as humans, such as right to life. One does not need to make a case for such rights in order to enjoy them. However, their entitlement does not mean enjoyment. An appropriate machinery needs to be evolved for their enforcement. This machinery too may have problems. It may be able but not willing to enforce or vice-versa, Das said. Also, those whose rights are violated may not be considered as humans. For instance, Das said, a running theme in the hate literature in the Gujarat carnage described “the other” as “sub-humans”. The other notion of rights is the communicative notion. These need to be claimed. Samir Das said that these rights are those claims that are backed by arguments and reasons. These reasons must be are to be called ‘public reasons’ for they are intelligible for those from whom the rights are being claimed. Also, these rights must be plausible. A common language of communication needs to be evolved for communication between the one claiming and the one giving the right. The language of rights imposes constraints on communication by victims of forced displacement. This calls for exploring other languages and strategies. Das said that there is a distinction between the right to communicate and the right to information. There are two major inadequacies of the right to information. The first is, who will provide you with information? Usually, a collective goal (like, national security or national development) is constructed on basis of which information is withheld. With regard to the Narmada Project, this goal is national development. The second is, what will you do with the information? Here, he cited the example of the movement launched by the Mazdoor Kissan Shakti Sargathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan. Ultimately the government conceded the right to inspect public works records but were not allowed to take authorized copies. Das pointed to the distinction between truth and established truth. He went on to give the example of a woman who was affected by the widening of a canal in Kolkata. When asked by an NGO to establish her right on the land she occupied, she invoked divine theory and said that she had come there holding God’s hand. She said that this was the neighborhood where she grew up. She said that all enjoy common access to soil and sky. Das said that none of these reasons can be judicially entertained or juridically established. He referred to other instances such as the absence of written records with regard to the Commission for Chittagong Hill Tracts (now in Bangladesh) and the scrapping of all cadastral surveys in Meghalaya.


Following the address, Sanjib Barua reiterated the need to interrogate the terms Das talked about. He said that there is a certain class that employs servants, something closely related to child labor. An increase in the number of servants is in fact, associated with economic growth. He said that there is need for expansion of the legal regime. Samir Das said that displacement is neither illegal nor unconstitutional. And the case usually is of a fragment asserting its rights against a collectivity. Responding to a question by Deepti Mahajan on how intangible arguments can be transformed into legally acceptable tangibles, Das said, the first strategy could be to equip the victims in intricacies of law. The second strategy is to test the law on its limits by way of stretching them if necessary, beyond their logical limits. The third strategy, he said, is to work on the plea: “Kills us before you evict us’ and organize a social movement for the assertion of rights. Ranabir Samaddar, quoting Rawls said that some rights are primary goods. No right, he added, operates in an asymmetrical world. He said that rights must be understood in the context of contentious politics. Pradip Bose said that we must look into how liberal political rights can accommodate communities. A welfare state has a moral responsibility and a solution needs to be found within a strategic political framework. Hari Adhikari pointed to the fact that sometimes victims do not have any forum to communicate from. Subhendhu Dasgupta raised the point that even if a victim goes to the government via court, what is the remedy available if the government does not obey the court. Samir Das said that the rights that cannot be included in legal rationality can be accommodated in terms of charity or entitlements. He added that even if the victims are graded, responsibility towards them should not be graded. He also emphasized the need of constant vigilance on what the state does.


Session Two: November 9, 2003

Day Four: Editing and Reporting

Speakers: Paula Banerjee, and Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal


The session on “Face to Face with Editors” was chaired by Samir Das. Paula Banerjee recounted her experience of planning an issue of Refugee Watch on “Gender and Refugees”. Women are victimized by circumstances but they also negotiate spaces for empowerment. She said that she was looking forward to present different images of women, but her attempt met success only after three long years. An editor she said must know the issue and also what she wants to advocate. The articles should be well researched and the stories as well as subjects of the stories should be sensitively dealt with.


Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, the next speaker, said that every editor has a political agenda; it could be an agenda of peace and justice as well. She said that many journalists today do with “table–work” and put in no effort in fieldwork. Editors, she said, are sometimes compelled to take excuses from journalists. Jamwal said that she emphasizes on coverage of humanitarian issues. Research, commitment, empathy, sensitivity and projection without provocation were the watchwords that came up during  the session.


The discussion that ensured evolved around the different imperatives that guide a niche magazine /journal and a mainstream newspaper. Drawing from her experience, Banerjee said that Refugee Watch has to be produced within certain limitations. An attempt is made to interrogate words like “infiltrators”, and look at government policy. She added that individuals working in the media too, make a difference by their commitment to issues. She laid stress on the protection of sources and subjects. Jamwal said that there exists something beyond sensationalism. She said that for her this is a focus not just in editorials but also in news stories covered by her organization.


Session Three: November 9, 2003

Day Four: Editing and Reporting

Speaker: Manas Ray


Pradip Bose chaired the next segment — “Literary Readings on Partition in the East”. The speaker Manas Ray started by talking of the deconstruction of the passport phenomenon. A 20th century phenomenon, he said, the passport has become an influential reality. Ray said that the movement of people in the wake of partition represents the largest of migration in human history.


He said that the figure of a refugee is invariably internationalized. He becomes an “icon’ or exotic figure. The new emergence of a self-conscious memory discourse will gesture against the protocols of history writing. Memory here means an unincorporated remainder — the marginal discourse, peripheral to the seamless casual narrative of history, Ray said. Partition can place itself in a cluster of discourses – fiction, history etc. and thus concrete reality finds a genealogy. He said that placing all partition literature together, one gets an empty homogenous space — a celebration of bountiful nature in a timeless capsule, symptomatic by non-return. Bengali creativity had to cope with the famine of 1943, the riots of 1946 and the Partition in 1947, marking a collective melancholy. Ray said that nothing is more present than memory. Nostalgia, he said, needs to be perforated time and again.


Session One: November 10, 2003

Day 5: Assessment and Valedictory


First, three groups presented their writing assignments, and comments on the writings were sought from participants and resource persons. Each group was asked to write an editorial for Refugee Watch, Numbers 18 & 19. The existing edit pages were torn off from the respective issues. These group editorials were sent to the resource persons and were commented upon by them.


The chairman requested each of the participants to individually voice their opinions about the holding of this year’s Workshop and also to make suggestions that CRG may take into account while organizing similar workshops in future. Almost all the participants expressed their deep sense of satisfaction about the way it was designed, resource persons were selected, interactive sessions and participants’ discussions were planned and most importantly, the Workshop was run. It was an open session where the participants were urged to speak freely by way of evaluating the Workshop. The participants welcomed the idea of free and open evaluation session by those for whom it was meant.


Tulsi Dawadi set the ball rolling while pointing out that the themes that were touched upon and discussed in course of the Workshop were all ‘burning issues’. Although he did not ask too many questions during the sessions, all his unuttered queries were answered and thereby it served his purpose: “Now I have a clear position about what I need to disseminate amongst my own people”. The presentations made by Subir Bhaumik and Urvasi Butalia particularly addressed many of his concerns.


Sabir Ahmed Middya found it thought-provoking and stimulating. He of course made a plea for including field-based training programmes and empirical studies. He complimented the resource persons for being very discerning and sensitive to the needs of the participants. Nessar Ahmed observed that he would go back with a lot of information in his kitty. He found the sessions on “Objectivity versus Creativity” and “Victims’ Right to Communication” particularly interesting. But many of the presentations on literary writings contained allusions and contents that he was unfamiliar with. He did not know whether writings skills could be taught or not. Jagatmani Acharya began his address by thanking his colleagues at CRG for “giving the Bhutanese refugees a space”. Would it be possible to extend the forum so that the suffering refugees get a chance to attend it and get to know that there is a forum for them? He said that he had attended similar media programmes elsewhere in South Asia but this he felt, was excellent. Hari Adhikari admitted that it was an enriching experience for him. While he used to file reports on the issue (of Bhutanese refugees) alone, he could come to know through the Workshop that this was some sort of a universal experience. The best way to muster support from others was to engage with others. As part of the Workshop, some fact-finding exercises could be conducted. He also asked whether it would be possible to organize similar Workshops in future in places closer to the refugee camps so that the camp people get a chance to observe, if not take part in them.


R. R. Srinivasan wondered why there was no separate session on the issue of displacement of the Dalits particularly in South India. The displacement of Dalits is happening almost on a regular basis in Tamil Nadu. The hierarchical restrictions characteristic of Hindu caste system prevent them from entering temples, accessing common property resources particularly, water bodies for collecting drinking water. In that sense they are “permanently displaced”. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the dominant intellectual scenario is not conducive to the cause of the Dalits. While Gandhism and Marxism are in currency, very little is drawn from the philosophy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. One can also learn from Black politics in the West. He underlined the importance of inviting Dalit woman resource persons in future. Moreover, he made the suggestion of holding public hearing of the direct experiences of the refugees.


While the Workshop turned its focus solely on the refugees and the displaced persons as the victims, Abhijit Das felt that it did not take into account the plight of the natives and locals. With the influx of the refugees particularly from across the borders, the locals are losing their jobs and land: dacoities and robberies carried out by the “infiltrators” are becoming common and frequent particularly in the bordering regions of West Bengal. He pleaded a policy of resettling the natives and locals as a means of resolving the crisis.


Monika Mondal found the Workshop a rewarding experience. She particularly liked the photo-exhibition. However, she wished if there could be some session on refugee policies and their analysis. Deepti Mahajan observed that her abiding twin concern for media and activism found a “meeting point” in the Workshop. It was very well organized and resource persons were dawn from a wide spectrum of fields. A rather detailed introduction of the resource persons could have come handy for the young participants who may not have been conversant with at least some of them. Some presentations on literary writings particularly Bengali, were too specific to address some general concerns and were pitched as it were for only those who knew them. Anirban Mukhopadhyay thanked CRG as a representative of the electronic media. He promised that he would hold and organize many talk shows in his FM radio programmes on themes and issues brought into focus by the Workshop. Shubabrata thanked CRG for having provided a “conceptual understanding of the DPs (Displaced Persons)”. He would try his best to incorporate it into the course curricula that he teaches at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The reading materials have been excellent that he may use in his courses. The resource persons represented various walks of life: academics, reporters, editors of both mainstream and niche media, writers, literary critics, film critics, photojournalists, lawyers and last but not the least, refugees and refugee activists.


Pradip Bose chaired the valedictory session and Ranabir Samaddar delivered the valedictory address. Samaddar said that the displaced groups/ individuals go through unimaginative heights of victim-hood.  He emphasized the importance of an awareness of rights. How refugees demand information and use it, involves many significant political, moral and ethical concerns. During the workshop, he said, women’s concerns came up and many issues were brought to the fore by the three case studies on Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast, and West Bengal. The group also delved into how literature has acted on themes such as displacement. It is of significance to ground media studies in the questions that were addressed during the workshop, he said. The structures and functioning of the media were covered well. Samaddar said that certain ethical and aesthetic concerns cut all issues discussed during the course of the workshop.


Deepti Mahajan presented the rapporteur’s report and Pradip Bose awarded certificates to the participants. Sabyasachi’s Basu Ray Chaudhary gave the vote of thanks. The workshop ended with a wonderful cultural evening.


Section Two

Participants’ Notes


[This Section publishes only some of the session notes presented by the resource persons/participants in various sessions mentioned above. DM & SKD]


I. Inaugural Address

Speaker: K. G. Kannabiran


In the year 1955-56 one day around 14-30 hrs in the afternoon I was returning to the Chambers of Sri A.K. Bal Krishnan who kindly permitted me to deposit my black coat and gown in his chambers. As I neared the Gate I saw a Muslim woman waiting at the gate hesitating to enter the compound. As I came out, she with the same hesitation approached and showed me a piece of paper and asked me whether I would help her. She was served with a notice to show cause why she should not be deported only on the basis that she was holding a Pakistani Passport and has no permission to stay in India. This was under Foreigners Act. She narrated her tale of woes for which she obviously was in no way responsible. Her wretchedness could afford only a brief less impecunious lawyer with hardly two years’ standing. She was one of those many hapless women who on persuasion from their grown up sons, fathers and husbands left with them to Pakistan in pursuit of illusions many suffered from in those days. Culturally she had nothing to do with Pakistan. She was purely Tamil. Having gone three she found it difficult to live in the strange and new surroundings with no assurance of livelihood for families who have migrated in the hope of finding better opportunities to enhance their contract and quality of life. On the other hand she was confronted with the stark reality of hunger amidst a hostile population, whose hostility was only the logical result of the exodus threatening their right to life.  Disillusioned she returned leaving behind the men who took her there.  She was a full Indian citizen when she left and the governments on either side did not even anticipate that quite a few among the migrating population are likely to come back and their return should not lead to the insufferable bureaucratic harassment which has always been with us and in fact has been the hall mark of governance.  She does not know that the document that was handed over to her was a passport.  And holding the passport deprived her of the title to claim she is an Indian.  How can a lower middle class woman, with her backwardness compounded by her belonging to the minority community, understand that she, by possessing a Pakistani passport lost her right to stay in that part of the country where she and her ancestors were living for generations by few days of stay in Pakistan.  The government passes a law that possession of passport is conclusive proof and that she by securing a passport acquired Pakistani citizenship and by that very act renounced her Indian citizenship.  By formulating such definitions of citizenship they have reduced to travesty the concept of democracy and the dignity attached to the membership in a society.  Unlearned in the ways of a lawyer, I must have by focusing on the inhumanity lurking in the labyrinth of law, emphasized the obscurity of these measures to the Court, which led Mr. Ayyaswamy Chetty, the Chief Presidency Magistrate to prevent execution of the deportation order. Asia Begum was relieved by the order.  She was not happy when she left me, perhaps on account of the haunting insecurity of her life.  50% of the exodus must have been women and Asian Begum is part of this huge anonymity that will always be invisible.


            The partition of the country resulted in the largest population migrations in recent times and around five to six million people migrated from both sides and quite a few Refugee Camps set all over the country and in Avadi in Madras.  But the point is these are not matters of legality.  These are matters of rights that inhere in a human being as a member of human society and national borders and the concept of sovereignty that arose on the basis of the formation of nation states should not hinder any government it from recognizing these rights when large sections of population are forced to leave their native settlements for very often irrational and maniacal reasons. In the huge human displacement called Partition nearly a million died and few thousands of women abducted and the proponents of partition either did not have the imagination to visualize the horrendous cost of the proposal or were persons who viewed human suffering is irrelevant to such major political decisions.  Neither government ever thought that such displacements could have been planned to reduce human suffering on such a large scale.  There was distinct possibility in the case of Partition to reduce the misery that was likely to follow by such large-scale human displacement.


            Forced migration of large populations from a country is very often on account of political turmoil within and post partition, we have our share of experience on his count.  The Tibetan refugees who were adherents of Dalai Lama came to India in 1950.  This has recurred  when East Pakistan liberated itself and Bangladesh was born.  In the context of this event we had a refugee influx of nearly 10 million in 1971 and after a decade we had an influx of people from Sri Lanka of Tamil origin.  We had student refugees from Shah of Iran’s rule.  I remember, during that period a group of students was sought to be deported to Iran and sending them back to Iran would be dispatching them to certain death.  I moved the court on the ground that deporting him or her would violate his or her Right to Life available to every person within India.  The conflicts resulting in displacements in the later half of the twentieth century are of a dimension, which was not even anticipated.  The collapse of the Communist systems brought about social disintegration on a scale and intensity we never visualized.  Rwanda, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, the newly emerged states like Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan and the unmanageable violence in these areas are instances of total breakdown of politics, political thinking and the utopian dreams of a human world.  We have a series of UN Conventions, which, in the absence of a vision of human governance and a willingness on the part of the countries of the world to work towards such a goal, are mere Documents of Good Intentions.


            Such migrations make the migrants a people of inferior status to whom the principle of equality will not be applied.  These populations, a majority of them, will offer themselves under compelling circumstance to agree to work for less than a minimum wage and perhaps will form the Helots of these societies.  You cannot even release them from this bondage because you may deprive them of even this niggardly right to live.  In most of the cases repatriation to their own country may not be realized before a generation of migrants passes away.  The conflicts between the migrants and the citizens are bound to occur.  Such population movements have become endemic and the consequent conflicts are aggravated by a total disregard for democracy and human rights.


            We have also been experiencing displacements within cities on account of increasing use of religion as a very effective component of party system in this adversarial politics of parliamentary democracy.  One sort of migration, which is nonetheless forced, is movement of population from region to urban centres in another region in search of a living,. Mumbai comes to my mind.  You have the poor and middle class job seekers from all over the country migrating to Mumbai.  The dominant majority has built politics around these migrants.  They are the vote banks and fodder for violence by the dominant majority.  From these parochial political paroxysms we have now graduated to theocratic aggression the minorities.  We have the attack on the Sikh minority in 1984.  The large scale crime was the first genocidal attack and the community has not secured justice despite the Constitutional assurance of equality and political justice.  On account of the disturbances in Punjab during that period parents joined their young in educational institutions in the South.  Bidar in Karnataka is a place where around two thousand students from Punjab were studying in capitation fee institutions.  The Guru Nanak Jeera Trust was along with others running engineering and Medical colleges. The student population from Punjab particularly from the Sikh community sought admissions in the colleges run by the Trust. The Supreme Court dealing with the rights of the educational institutions found it difficult to find an acceptable euphemism for business to describe the activity of these educational institutions.  The aggressive rivalry led to targeting the Sikh student community in Bidar in the year 1987.  Thirteen young students were brutally killed.  In this variety of civil strife the violence will always be genocidal.  The seeking of educational opportunities in other states under the circumstances mentioned would I believe, qualify for being termed forced migration?  There is the case of a Kashmiri student Gowhar Amin Mir a student from Kashmir who had joined the Tibbia College of Unani Medicine was prosecuted under TADA and sentenced to five years and later acquitted by the Supreme Court in one of the many instances where young persons from turbulent area come out for studying and run the risk of getting implicated.


            I was a member of the Citizens Tribunal, which enquired into the carnage engineered by Narendra Modi in Gujarat.  This is a clear case of genocidal violence.  They were refugees in their own towns and cities in Gujarat.  All those living in relief camps were forced out of their shelters; some were slaughtered some raped, and their shelters and properties consigned to fire.  These people have the right to settle and reside in Gujarat; they have a right to belong to and to believe in a different faith; Nowhere has the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 been so grossly violated as in Gujarat by Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.  He forfeited the life and liberty of quite a large number of people in flagrant violation the Constitution and the Laws.


            This takes us to the issues, which has human society today.  Can the present international bodies in their existing state contain and prevent forced migration?  Will the member states transcend their national politics and give primacy to the humanitarian covenants?  Without the basic universal understanding that governance should give precedence to principles of equality, social and distributive justice as vehicles of social transformation is it possible to prevent forced or involuntary migration?  Don’t we need a total restructuring of the World Body to make it more responsive and more representative of the world peoples than the governments, though these bear only a formal representative character? The Gujarat offensive against minorities does inform us that the representative character of our institutions is less than formal.

1 I appeared for the Sikh Community before the Commission of Enquiry presided over by Justice Shyamsunder of the Karnataka High Court.

 2I appeared for this young man before the designated court.



II. Media response to forced displacement in Jammu & Kashmir

Speaker: Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal


The Kashmir conflict is not as recent as thirteen years, but goes back to 1947. Jammu and Kashmir has a long history of forced migration ever since, in almost every region of the plural, multi-cultural state. Unfortunately, while not many know about the refugees of 1948, 1965, and 1971, the mainstream media has ensured that all the displacements from border areas and from the interiors in Doda, Rajouri-Poonch — Hindus or Muslims during the last thirteen years are over-shadowed by the more widely covered Kashmiri Pandit migrants. Ironically, this attitude has not even ended up serving the interests of the latter, though it may suit a section of elite migrants trying to gain political mileage by cashing in on their say, accessibility to the media, which the latter has willingly obliged. The Media’s role has been instrumental in enabling the Kashmiri migrants to become the privileged class of displaced people in the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir with better relief, benefits, perks and packages as compared to the other categories of displaced people. This has allowed state players to frame unequal laws of determination of migrant status for different peoples belonging to Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, with much of the media playing into the hands of one section of displaced people, it has sharpened the communal and regional divide and enhanced polarization greatly, making the issue of re-settlement a lesser probability owing to the complexities and duplicities that have greatly been encouraged not just by politicians but also by the media. Reporters are often hamstrung with a myopic, one-sided view of the issue of displacements or editors with their ulterior motives, often at the behest of political men thriving on columns of publicity often run the risk of going beyond to question the genesis of displacements or the plight of the displaced. The problem is compounded by over-zealous reporters churning out quantity stories and often relying on table information that fieldwork, which if at all carried out, is a cosmetic arrangement in haste. The media is often constrained by its own limitations of space and time, ignoring the issues in totality. But, often is dictated by its own weaknesses – either to play into the hands of an individual or a party; but mostly moved by the “nationalist” concerns, which forbid them to see border dispute in a clearer perspective without defending any action of security forces intimidating the civilians as a necessity. The Muslim migrants are often ignored specially in the remote inaccessible areas because these set of migrants are not as articulate and are also driven by the compulsions of harassing security-men. Build-up of troops and question of landmines is often justified, underplayed or even blacked out in both news-reports and editorial content, thus treating most cases of displacements in fragments and compartments instead of in totality. This paper dwells on the media’s role in projection of lop-sided and generalized picture of forced migrations in Jammu and Kashmir without questioning the role of the security forces or the administration in encouraging the phenomenon and how, such media projection has enabled to create communal and regional polarization in an otherwise peacefully co-existing multi-cultural, multi-religion, multi-ethnic and multi-plural society.


III. Refugees or Infiltration in the Border Problem?

Speaker: Krishna Bandyopadhyay


The year 1947. The British, in a deal with then leaders of undivided India, partitioned the country. The people did not even get an inkling of it. Overnight, their own land turned into another country and the populace was broken into pieces, the venomous consequence of which is being felt by the ordinary folks for the last 56 years. The two states of the Indian Union that received the blows from India’s partition are Bengal and Punjab. The problem emanating from that division lingers on even today. Here, we will discuss specifically the problems of Bengal. The partition of the country even changed the name of Bengal. One part became West Bengal, the other — East Bengal. The same eastern part is now sovereign nation known as Bangladesh. Two-third of Bangladesh’s border is along India. And one-third remains on the sea. That is why; the border problem in Bangladesh is more acute. Of course, the topic of our discussion here is on that two third of the border, giving birth to the ‘border problem’ between West Bengal and Bangladesh.


            The politics of the partition was mainly centred on religion. Wars have even taken place between the two countries (Pakistan and India) on the basis of religion. The wars ended but peace has not come. Liberation of Bangladesh, too has not solved the problem. Religion has acquired a new high in recent years. Of course for the world as a whole, the politics of religion has taken on a decisive role. The problem has become more acute in the last five years. Naturally, the victims have been ordinary people in both the countries.


            The problem occupies the columns of newspaper and magazines almost everyday. The Chhitmahal issue has been made so complex – because of which common people in both the countries are repeatedly becoming refugees. In India, there are 51 Chhitmahals of Bangladesh whose total area is 7110.02 acres and in Bangladesh there are 11 Chhitmahals of India whose total land area is 17158.13 acres (Source:       Dakshin Dinajpur Katha, November 1, 2001).


            The people of Chhitmahals still do not know which part they belong to. In the land in the Bangladeshi part live Indians while in land under the Indian territory, live Bangladeshis. There are border security camps in both the countries. One says, ‘Don’t be scared’, the other says, ‘No fear’. But fear refuses to go, the fear of becoming refugees. And being refugees means that anything can be done to them.


            A place like this is Charmeghna under Karimpur thana (police station) in Nadia district. Here, in 1,400 square kilometres of ‘Bangladesh’ land live 1000 Indians. Apart from the ‘voter identity card’, they have no other ‘card’ certifying them as Indian citizens. From the government, they have received only a BSF camp and a primary school; they do not get any other help. Apart from their own bicycles, no other form of transport is available to them. Even amidst this, children come out to the roads, go to the schools and colleges. Girls say, “We return home before dusk. We are scared of the BSF jawans. Never know when we will be physically assaulted and finished off.”


            Like this, land from this or that country is spread over West Bengal, from the north to the south. The wired fences have accentuated the problem. The fencing is being put up in such a manner that the only graveyard on this side has fallen on the other side. ‘While putting up wired fencing, a hundred thousand acres of land from the state’s ten districts have gone to the other side of the fence’ – Kamal Guha (Quoted in Pratidin, March 24, 2002).


            The Border Security Force, too, has got down to strongly deal with it. So, ordinary folks, driven by poverty or coming to see their relatives or coming to offer puja, have to face bullets for the crime of crossing over the wired fencing. Women are turning into preys of their sexual hunger. BSF sends reports about them with the stamp of smugglers, cattle thieves or the ISI agents. The rulers feel happy that patrolling is going on in full swing. But smuggling remains undisrupted. The task of border security is to protect the border. But using the pretext of protecting, they are torturing ordinary people day after day. And naturally, women and children are more vulnerable.


            ‘Ordinary people are fed up with BSF tyranny’: Kamal Guha, Minister for Agriculture observes (quoted in Pratidin, March 24, 2002). In the daily newspapers, news from the border means one, two or four or more killed by the border security. It is not that BSF is firing at those coming from the other side. Ordinary people within the border are murdered without reason by BSF jawans. Cattle are being forcibly lifted from the villagers. No one can say where they dump the women they pick up. Samayun Huq, a meritorious student of class IX from Madhupur village. Lalgola block, Murshidabad district, killed by BSF bullets while returning home from tuitions (Rangadhanu, 1-15 December, 2001). Subhas Mandal, a 27-year old poor farm labourer from Sirchar village, Jalsi thana, Murshidabad district, killed by BSF firing while ploughing land for jute cultivation (Jhar, 2-8 June, 2003) Purnima Das from Bikrampur village was seen hanging with a noose from a tree behind the camp at Meghna. Investigations revealed later that she was raped and murdered. Her blood-laden sari and petticoat was found in a bush. But no one including her parents came to help. BSF later denied its hand in the matter.


            The Child of a Bangladeshi mother is born in an Indian jail. According to the Indian Constitution, the boy will be an Indian citizen. The event took place in the Raigunj jail in North Dinajpur district. The woman, who was arrested in a state of pregnancy on 30th April as an illegal infiltrator, delivered the baby in August after being in jail for four months (Pratidin, August 8,2002). Thousands of such things are happening everyday on the border.


            According to researchers in Bangladesh, between 1964-1999, on an average 538 Hindus from Bangladesh are daily entering India (Desh, June 17,2003). It is quite essential to mention here that when Hindus come to this country we call them refuge-seekers, while Muslims are called ‘infiltrators’.


            Forever continues this push-in push out. The most affected in both the countries are the deprived and the oppressed. As a consequence, distrust between the two countries is growing, sparking off even armed border skirmishes between the border security personnel.


            Another thing must be said here. The distrust and hostility that are being generated between the two countries at the state-to-state level cannot be seen among the ordinary people. It can be observed that every year in Taki-Hasnabad-Hingalganj thousands of people used to come over to this side to watch the immersion of the Goddess at the time of the Durgapujas (the biggest festival of the Bengali Hindus), even go over from this side to the other. They used to be wrapped up in Bijoya embraces, get synthesised into one entity. But to prevent infiltration from the other side, BSF patrol launches have been introduced in the Ichhamati river. From now on, therefore, the people of two Bengals will have to stand on the two banks of the Ichhamati and wave at each other to convey their Bijoya greetings or best wishes (Pratidin, October 15, 2002).


            Though refugees and infiltrators have different meanings, they have become synonymous in the context of the border problem. So, these two cannot be discussed separately today.


IV. Media Audit on Forced Displacement: Assam

Speaker: Bhupen Sarmah (with Ratna Bharali)


For decades, thousands of people in Assam have been displaced from their original habitats, the displacement being forced on them either due to natural disaster or man made situation arising out of ethnic conflict, industrial growth and large scale construction activities. Assam Being a landlocked state, the forced displacement caused by various factors has taken a heavy toll on its socio-economic condition apart from affecting the demography and ecology. Apart from this internal displacement, the state has been witnessing migration of large number of people from neighbouring countries—Bangladesh and Nepal, adding to the process of demographic change.             


            Of the various factors, displacement forced by natural calamities like flood and erosion account for the majority of the displaced population. Ravaging floods render thousands of people homeless every year while erosion caused by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries has forced thousand others to leave their ancestral places to safer but disadvantaged places making their life more difficult. The migration of flood and erosion affected people to new areas, either on their own or due to rehabilitation programme of the state government sometimes leads to social problems as such displacement has an impact on the existing demography of a particular area and affects their livelihood. Adding to the displacement caused by natural calamities is the large-scale displacement of people caused by man-made situation like ethnic conflicts. Assam is home to more than eight major and several smaller ethnic groups. The socio-political and economic aspirations of these ethnic societies to emerge as big powers and their outburst against negligence of the successive rulers leading to underdevelopment often led to a series of ethnic conflicts. 


            The ethnic riot between the Bodos and the Muslims in 1993 and ethnic riots between the Bodos and Adivasis in 1996 and in 1998 forced many people belonging to all the three communities to leave their houses amidst incidents of arson, looting and killings and counter killings, and take shelter in make-shift relief camps in lower Assam districts of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Dhubri and central Assam districts of Darrang and Sonitpur. Similarly, ethnic clashes between the Hmars and Dimasas in 2003 led to forced displacement of thousands of people belonging to both the communities in the two southern Assam districts of North Cachar Hills and Cachar to leave their houses and take shelter either in safer places or in relief camps set up by the government.


            The state also witnessed displacement of large number of people in several districts following massive eviction drive undertaken by the forest department to carryout the Supreme Court directive to the states to make the reserved forest free from encroachment. Over the years, large number of people had migrated and settled in forest areas. Due to increasing population pressure, some of the forests have been completely denuded. However, as the these villages were not de-notified the Forest department had to undertake eviction drive in these areas to carryout the Supreme Court directive, leading to displacement of a large number of people in different parts of the state. The state capital Guwahati also witnessed such displacement in 2002 when the Forest Department undertook eviction drive in the hills surrounding the city.


            Another man-made situation leading to forced displacement in the state is due to setting up of large industries and mega projects of dam construction. A large number of people were displaced from their original places, as land required for these projects is acquisitioned by the government. These forced displacements of people caused by various factors are not isolated events and they have a chain reaction which have given rise to many other issues like human rights violation, aspirations of various communities for self rule, creation of new administrative set ups, protection of tribal belts and blocks, demands for enactment of new land laws etc.


            The purpose of this study is to find out as to how the media (particularly the local news papers) perceived of displacement in Assam over the last five years. The study covers media analysis of issues of forced displacement and look at the origins and structures of displacement, attitude of the media to laws, measures, relief and rehabilitation of the victims of displacement. The study also aims at presenting a coherent profile, on the basis of the conditions and patterns of displacement, attitude of the state as well as the civil society to the cases of displacement. 


            It has been observed that the local media, particularly the newspapers, have been successful (to certain extent) to portrait the contemporary situation of forced displacement in the state. The problems such as ethnic conflicts, floods etc., and their tangible impacts on people, are highlighted. However, the media have failed to address the issues in their totality, as well as objectively. Largely depending on the official sources, the local newspapers have tried to inform the conscious readers about the intensity of the problems, but failed to establish a lively communication between the victims and the civil society at large. The Reporters of most of the local newspapers, as it appears, have hardly tried to communicate the victims of the circumstances while filing their report. It has also been observed that the media is quite reluctant to provide any analysis of the ethnic conflicts considering the historical factors responsible for their frequent occurrence in the. Although the newspapers have, by and large, shown their sensitivity towards the issues of human rights, preferred to almost completely ignore the issue of gender. The media have hardly made any worth noting attempt to address the overall condition of women in the situation of armed conflict, in the relief camps, in the situation of floods or other forms of forced displacement. However, one cannot ignore the constrains which the local media have to confront with while addressing particularly the sensitive issues in a society marked by constant ethnic conflicts and armed struggles launched by several militant groups. Yet, the local media should definitely make the required efforts to play a more meaningful role exercising the relative autonomy provided by the democratic state.


V. Writing Displacement: Creativity versus Objectivity

Speaker: Pamela Philipose


The media has been variously defined as a public sphere providing space for issues of importance to be discussed and debated; a major collective source of information and images, which is essential for citizen participation; a network providing a crucial link between individuals and “the collective’’, which is society. Its power stems from its ownership of the power to interpret, reproduce and disseminate information. It is a power that arises from the social recognition that all human beings have the right to information and the freedom of expression.


            Having said this, let us look at this resource a little more closely. The fact that it has often proved unequal to the task it is expected to do is to state the obvious: its silences often being as significant as its statements. It would be useful to ask ourselves, then, why this happens. Well, society as we know it is a terrain in which various discourses, reflecting the interests of discrete groups, are constantly competing with each other for supremacy.  While some of these get to the top of  the heap, the rest are marginalised, and often forgotten. The newspapers we read, the television we see, the Internet we scan, contributes in no small measure to this process. But that’s not all. The media, even as they attempt to reflect social and political  events occurring around us, are themselves  sites where contending  ideologies and viewpoints do battle. But there is a further complication to consider. Since the media are, in many ways, an extension of the existing power apparatus_ especially when it comes to what is loosely defined as “national interest’’ _ it should come as no surprise to anyone that the inadequacies, prejudices, misconceptions and interests marking government and political formulations on this issue are faithfully mirrored in print and television reports and analyses.


            The Indian government, as we know, has chosen to deal with displaced populations through political and administrative measures, sometimes very ad hoc ones, rather than perceive the issue as one of legal and humanitarian entitlements. It has not signed the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which specifically expresses the wish that all states recognize the “social and humanitarian nature of the problem of refugees”. In fact, possibly because it is not a signatory, the Indian state doesn’t appear to be obliged to use precise terminology and it uses words like “refugees” in what would appear as a deliberately loose manner, so that the legal obligations they entail are lost sight of. It follows from this that the government’s response to the displacement of people and population flows across the border is often inconsistent, knee-jerk and motivated by the inclinations and ideology of the party in power.

Take the political and media discourse on what has come to be termed the “Bangladeshi problem’’. Here the genuine displaced person/ environmental refugee has become synonymous with the jehadi terrorist. The distortions that now characterise this discourse, the general conflating of terms like refugees/migrant workers/displaced people/ infiltrators, has had two unfortunate consequences. It has not only prevented the government from framing an ethical response to a very human predicament of vast numbers of people, but ironically also from evolving an legal and rational framework with which to deal with what are sometimes justified concerns, relating to the nation’s security and its social and economic well-being, that arise out of such mass displacement.


            Therefore, in these times of economic flux, social hatred, and military conflict, it becomes crucial for an institution like the media to be ever conscious of its appointed two-fold role of furthering the right to know and the right to express – both of which can be regarded as a universal right flowing from the concept of the “inherent dignity” of every human person. What, it seems, the media needs most of all in dealing with human displacement is a value addition of mind and heart. Let me try and explain this a bit further.


            Talking of the mind, there cannot be effective media coverage without good information and the adequate absorption of it. Very often what we get dished out to us in terms of news reports and analyses are products of a tunnel vision. The peripheral feedback which is so important for the telling of the “whole story” is invariably absent. When poor media treatment is extended to a community that is already on the fringes, that is already the subject of strong social approbation, there are two immediate consequences. The community is either “invisibilised” as a group not deserving of media space and attention _ as a mass of faceless, nameless itinerants in whose lives society has no stake _ or “visibilised” in a manner designed to feed existing prejudices and fears, as a group of economic predators out to rob local people of their jobs and facilities, as social predators out to undermine the religious identity of local populations, and sometimes even as dangerous terrorists out to breach national security. Both approaches – the visibilising and the invisibilising — perpetrate immense damage on a people who have already been deprived of the anchorage of a settled existence and are in grave need of support structures given the general deprivations that mark their lives.


            We then come to the first of the big lacunae that characterise media coverage: lack of information and background that could help in perceiving seemingly disparate people in their global, regional, local, geographic and historic contexts. Greater media literacy would demand a  knowledge not just of immediate events _ but of the factors that caused them. For instance, the only recent instance when Bangladeshis were received with sympathy and support on Indian territory, both in terms of popular support and media coverage, was in 2001. What helped greatly in this instance was the perception that these were members of the Hindu minority community facing religious persecution under the Khaleda Zia regime that overtly and covertly encouraged Islamic fundamentalists. Getting the big picture helped in this case and it may help even in cases where there is no manifest communal angle. There will, obviously, be more public sympathy for a group of displaced people who have been victims of a natural disaster like a flood, than for a group perceived as a bunch of marauders out to trouble the peaceful existence of local communities. Yet how often does media coverage of displacement give the reader or viewer the big picture?


            The ignorance, incidentally, exists at different levels and is not confined to entities like newspapers and TV channels alone. Several scholars have pointed to the general inadequacy that marks academic historiography of modern South Asia. Even the most defining event in modern South Asian history — its partition by colonial rulers that resulted in the creation of the three nation states of India, Pakistan, and eventually Bangladesh – is a largely underwritten one. Yet that partition, let us remembers, has been a crucial factor in causing population flows and not just in the immediate aftermath of 1947. The communal polarisation it fomented continues to be a factor in the riots and civic disturbances that surface every once in a way in the region. Such disturbances not only trigger actual displacement but colours perceptions about such displacement.


            It has been pointed out that something as crucial as the actual death toll that occurred during the events of 1947 remains imprecise. It could vary from two lakh to two million, with no estimate based on dependable sources.  Much of the material we have, and which continues to masquerade as the authoritative history of partition, are ideologically coloured accounts or casual reminiscences based as much on rumour as fact. Mention has been made, for instance, of the account of a “General Tuker”, writing long after the event and without citing any sources, of the women of Garhmukteshwar cheering when their men butchered Muslim women. This account has been used by Pakistani historians as evidence of Hindu barbarity. As we all know, history has a way of rudely intruding into the present, especially when it is cynically deployed for political purposes. We see the most manifest consequences of this when riots break out. Many who lived through the Partition riots have pointed out that the Sikh riots of 1984 reflected in their brutality and orchestrated fury that earlier moment. Events like these can never be truly buried. They surface time and again and the biases of a flawed history impinge crucially on perceptions at a mass scale, including those of media personnel. The ``outsider’’ then, already at a disadvantage in terms of not “being one of us”, comes to be perceived through a patina of manufactured hatreds.


            How then can the media help alter this reality? How can they be made more sensitive to documenting the phenomenon of displacement? A clue, I think, lies in all great literary work, and here’s where the “heart” comes in. We were taught in journalism school that news reports, unlike works of fiction, are based on facts. This, of course, is a sound principle. However, there is a great deal in good literature that the intrepid journalist can imbibe. For the purposes of this workshop, let us confine ourselves to just two of them: the ethical framework and depth of creativity that mark all great literature.


            The ethical framework of literature is really anchored in a sense of the human. Bhisham Sahni, the great chronicler of Partition, who died recently, put it this way in an introduction he had written to a Sahitya Akademi anthology of Hindi short stories: “In spite of its differences, the literature of one period is not altogether different from that of another. The depth of human sensibility that permeates all good writing links the literatures of one period with that of another. This humanity enables literature to transcend time, prevents it from aging despite the passing of the centuries. This humanity makes literature relevant in time as well as free of time. The literature that is most relevant to its time becomes, on the strength of this humanity, meaningful for other times too. But when the well springs of humanity begin to dry up in a literature, it grow irrelevant even in its own time, let alone later times”.


            We have here, then, a kind of brief manifesto that is relevant ultimately to all writing including that which goes by the term “journalism”, as indeed television scripting. And when the subject happens to be a dystopia populated by marginalized people, a people deprived of nationality, denuded of rights, detested as intruders, the reporter would need to remain even more conscious of that manifesto.


            As for creativity, it is a quality that is required more than ever in an age in which attention spans have shrunk and nearly every aspect of life has been rendered “instant”. Creativity here does not mean that the writer takes liberties with the facts, or undermines objectivity. Creativity could mean an accurate delineation of facts in a manner that invites empathy with the subject and encourages engagement, even a continuing engagement. Creativity means constantly looking for an arresting ways to capture reality and bring it home to readers and viewers. One can refer here to the work of a journalist who went on to become one of our best-known litterateurs of the Partition period: Sadaat Hasan Manto. Take this passage from one of his lesser-known stories:`The dog of Titwal’, about a canine that keeps crossing the LoC.


It begins almost like a news report about soldiers entrenched in their positions for several weeks with little fighting except the “dozen rounds they ritually exchanged every day”. “It was almost the end of September, neither hot nor cold. It seemed as if summer and winter had made their peace”. The one living thing that comes to distract them is a dog out of nowhere…

“Prove your identity,” Harnam Singh ordered the dog, who began to wag his tail. “This is no proof of identity. All dogs can wag their tails,” Harnam Singh said.

“He’s only a poor refugee,” Banta Singh said, playing with his tail.

Harnam Singh threw the dog a biscuit which he caught in mid-air. “Even dogs will now have to decide if they are Indian or Pakistan,” one of the soldiers observed…Harnam produced another biscuit from his kitbag, ``And all Pakistanis, including dogs, will be shot.”


            The dog then runs across to the Pakistani camp, with a makeshift collar bearing a short message: “Jhunjhun. This is an Indian dog”. The words cause great consternation in the Pakistani camp, with Subedar Himmat Khan venturing to suggest that they may even constitute an enemy code. He picks up his wireless set and speaks to his platoon commander. Then studies the map again, tears a small piece out from a cigarette packet and writes: “Shunshun. This is a Pakistani dog.” He ties it to the dog’s neck.  He fires an extra round which is promptly greeted by a round from the Indian side. The story ends with both sides shooting the dog as it tries to make its way back to the Indian side of the border. There is a great deal a reporter can pick up from this story in terms of its nuanced irony and careful distancing, all of which are essential to provide a perspective on an unnecessary war and an artificial boundary.


            To conclude, then, an aware and active media can indeed play a crucial role on issues like population flows and human displacement. It can provide important background and perspective, highlight conditions of life on the ground, counter prejudices and biases – many of which are inspired by patently communal agendas of political parties — and help governments formulate policy, marked by rationality and a consciousness of universal human rights.


VI. The Mid-Zone Bengali Writings on Partition and Displacement

Speaker: Anirban Mukhopadhyay


The Partition of 1947 and eventually the precarious career of the rootless people have had their lion’s share in the Bengali literature.  But the most amazing part of the story lies in the conspicuous voiceless ness of the writers of the earlier generation, many of them, being the monarchs of Bengali literature. I would like to enquire about this telling lifelessness of the earlier generation of writers, and a polyphonic explosion of words by the writers of the later period. I would also like to highlight a mid-zone, translucent and hence, lesser known writers who steered their way through these two extremes of voiceless ness and polyphonousness and thereby making a world for themselves, a unique world of digression – a digression that gives in as it were, to a counter-revolt, a revolt that is as calm as the ascetic and becomes the metaphor of their poetic being.


            Bengali literature was in a healthy siesta when the catastrophic partition happened. Tara Sankar Banerjee, Bibhuti Bhusan Banerjee and Manik Banerjee were in their literary highs. Poetry had in its parts, the likes of Jibananda Das, Samar Sen, Subhas Mukherjee, Birendra Chattopadhyay. Buddhadeb Bose, Sudhindranath Dutta and Bishnu Dey were fertile enough.  Social commitment was the leitmotif of ‘modern’ literature inspiring the Pragati Sahitya Andolan of the later ‘30s that drew from the Marxist perspective.  The year 1936 witnessed the birth of “Nikhil Bharat Pragati Lekhak Sangha” in Lucknow. Two years later, the second congress was held in Calcutta.  Rabindranath himself sent his words and the association voted for an amended version of their constitution, which proposed:


            Indian society has been undergoing a radical transition.  Reactionist forces – they imminently may face their extinction, the more desperate they are, to thrive in.  With the decadence of their classical culture, Indian literature has been taking refuge into a needless spiritual idealism and henceforth loosing vitality. The prime responsibility of the Indian writers is to emulate these shifting changes and strengthen progress through scientific rationality. The goal of our association is to get this present anaemic literature and culture – bringing it in a closer contact to the mass of ours, making a world of our dreams possible.


            The purpose of the Pragati Sahitya Andolan in short, was to make out of literature, an alchemy of protest and propaganda – realistic in its body and mass – friendly in its soul.


            Modernity – that was stealthily imposed by the colonial rule on the native literature found its operative idiom in the wedlock with the discourse of Pragati Andolan.  Even, a solely artist as Buddhadeb Basu, essentially pre-Raphaelite in ascetics, baptized himself into a progressive clergyman.  Literature was however enjoying the quintessence of realism.  The famine of 1943 served before the writers a delectable palate to try their intellect and endure commitment.


            The grotesque predicament of the displaced and their haplessness were now the theme song more sincerely studied and more authentically portrayed than before.  Topicality was the pole-star in Akaal, an anthology of poems edited by Sukanta Bhattacharya, Nabauna, a powerful play by Bijan Bhattacharya or in the novels like Asami Sanket by Bibhutibhusan.


            There are ample poems to quote from. The famine of 1943 fostered similar literality, blazing lines out of Subhas Mukherjee, Samar Sen and the likes – Responsibility and commitment were now the most widely followed religion of the then writers and aspirants alike.


            But then the path ends in pathos and mystery.  None of these writers cared to (or should it be “dared to”) spare some times for the most singularly dialogic event of the period – the partition of 1947. They were the too pre-occupied by the communal riot that followed the long awaited independence or the independence itself as a culmination of their dreams?  The poems written during this period breathe two distinct odours – the conscience of the poet, paralyzed by an unwarranted nemesis called the ‘riot’ or a euphoria out of an image of a braver, newer world.  Subhas Mukherjee published Agnikon in 1948, the poems like  Agnikoner Tallat Jude or Ekti Kabitar Janya bowing and scraping for the promised land, that might have been the motherland, the independent motherland in vision.  It is noteworthy that the Communist Party Of India (CPI). passively accepted the transfer of power and were not still vocal with their later popular slogan “Iye Azadi Jhuta Hai” (this independence is a sham),  thus justifying the  mute standpoint of the poet Subhas who was then a member of the party. Subhas could not afford to look beyond, the euphoria of the celebration.  Nirendranath Chakrabarty published first book of poems Neel Nirjan in 1954; the poems which were written in the earlier decade. The repercussion of the riot is prominent in one of the poems Taimur but the overall mood of the book as a whole is romantic. Birendra Chattopadhyay’s Natun Maas (1951) or 23rd January (1953) bear anti slavery overtones, but there is this enchanted smile of euphoria always predominant. But nowhere — not even in Jibaananda’s 1946-47 are scripted even a few lines dipped in pains of this amputation. 


            It was only with the newer breed of poets of the 1950s that the partition came up as a haunting subject of poetry.  A subject to be militant about, a subject to feel anger and distress, a subject to romanticize, a subject to cry for, a subject to make a statement.  They did – the poets of the krittibas band, especially Sunil Ganguli and Tarapada Roy.  Sunil’s poetic sensibility could not deny the aftermath of the historic truth, while it became for Tarapada a galaxy to wander about.  The days of nightmare became alive once again in his Charabadi Podabadi, Maandhaata, Bangaldesher Hriday Hote. In his 2nd book of poems Eka Ebang Kayekjan Sunil recreates the bleak memory of the post-independence tales of the disillusioned metropolitan life, challenged by poverty, hunger, love lost, political turmoil and spiritual void. Even as far as in 1972, when Sunil published Aamaar Swapna, the wound was still as open. Jodi Nirbasan Dao or Dhatree tastes as bitter. Sunil’s journey from his first mega novel Eka Ebang Kayekjan to Purba Paschim, he has always been articulate about sufferings borne primarily out of this singular political fiasco.  So, in the total temperament of Krittibas some kind of displacement is visible, and there from an ejaculation of anger and violence negotiated in sensuality. To pursue beyond the mutilated body of a nation, the general poetic sensibility takes a swing towards a rare kind of physicalism, hitherto un-appropriated.


            The other one of the land, Tarapada Roy from his very first book of poems Tomar Pratima (1960) has partition and the enforced emigration, the major key of his poems. In the 2nd edition of his book in 1972 he makes it more relevant in reference to the Bangladesh war of liberation, 1971, speaking for all deprived and the deceased. The series of poems named Bangladesh end up in absolutely astounding images of eternal return.  The pangs have been torn apart from the roots and these have been for him the injury of his life, “ironically the fountainhead of his counter production”. Even in his later writings, there has always been this typical melancholic strain, the memory of an integrated family life, teardrops for a land, never to be returned at.


            The literary practice of the Krittibas band structured this displacement into a metaphor to combat the social and spiritual calamities and it is only too blatant a truth that in the post-Krittibas, era the mainstream modern Bengali poetry, till today, has obediently followed this as the principal discourse.


            So, how have these two responses to partition been devised? By the time it was 1947, the poets of the ‘40s were quite names. A Buddhadeb Bose or a Sudhindranath Dutta were having a rare taste of money, simply put, recognition and authority.  Poets like Subhas and Brendra Chattopadhyay — ideological in their poems who placed the idea of the emancipated world in contrast to the general poverty around, had to perpetuate the jargons of progress. They might have been allured by the successful poetic career of their predecessors. Thus, the colonial discourse of progress engineered a sense of governmentality in the works of these poets.  One would suspect that they must have nurtured a dream of establishment in a new nation, speaking in terms of a new statist language, queerly clarifying their nail-living silence on the partition issue.


            However, during the 1950s, with the sense of euphoria steadily diminishing, the     band began their voyage from the opposite harbour. Increasing joblessness, turmoil in regional politics, adulterated daily necessities, and above all the unsettling the refugee crisis, were not singing enthusiasm in favour of a socialist revolution.  The youth thought it letter to caricature Nehruvian policies than sing ballads for an improbable world. In terms of Bengali poetry, this gave birth to a very de-familiarized language, expressionistic, candid, often uncouth, it enabled Sunil and company grab their share of popularity. Refugee distinction, the memory of a Bengal undivided, the generation of fury and helplessness was now the principal discourse that was at once relevant and delicious. But the story of shifting colours goes on.  In his Swarganagarir Chabi (1980), specifically                          Bharatbarsher Manchitrer Opar Danriye and Ekti Oitihasik Ukti, we find the enraged Sunil of Ek Ebang Kayekjan (1965), settling down as a conformist, ogling out lines in favour of communal harmony and the national meta narrative.  Sunil received Bankim Puruskar (Bankim Prize) in 1983, and the Academy in 1985.  Success becomes identical with names who can read the pulse of the state and refurnish his, language with the statist discourse. The metaphor of displacement is itself displaced enough.


            But is it only to decree one’s stately dome, that the verses written on the partition were scribbled?  The answer might be a yes or nothing at all.  This is only too obvious when literature becomes an echo of the voice of the state. Procession of the refugees, the landless people gathering up at the Sealdah station, hungry Bengal screaming in distress — are all there in Sunil’s writings.  But he is a pro-establishment Sunil, trying to cater to newer generation of readers, titillating them with the feigning of commitment.


            The characteristic feature of modernity in literature is its preoccupation with dislocation. Krittibas and the later poets have all walked on the oft-trodden path.  But a special mention to Tarapada Roy should be doing justice to his works.  There is more meat to his exploitation of displacement in his poems than what Dipesh Chakraborty defines as three-dimensional discourse of refugee memory.  Between the two editions of Tomar Pratima, Tarapada has not merely been sentimental about lost past or painted an ideal rural habitat or made stories of Hindu piety, rather he has achieved an eternity like the mother’s womb that man is split up from and must return back to.


            Here, I shall name a very special poet who has been writing since 1990s and is still enviably productive – Manindra Gupta, whose individual life itself is a recital in displacement.  In his very childhood, he had to shift from his homeland – Barisaal to the valley in Assam at the house of his place of birth after the partition. His prose works are prerogatives of this outrage of perpetual exile. Gupta named his autography as Akshay Mulberry where he reminisces a childhood sport with buddies hand in hand and they would spin around an old mulberry trunk babbling “here we go round like mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush in a cold and frosty morning”; with the growing pace we would lose his friend and a solitary star on his orbit, lipping the lines fanatically.  What exactly is this mulberry tree, like?  On the infinite time, beyond it?  Dislocation of beings brings this man closer to the people sharing identical misadventures.  His prose finds motifs in the displacements of the Eskimos, the Red Indian clans, the Nagas or the Chakmas.  He is always in his feverish passion talking about the partition:


        Its so long since I am an immigrant, and yet so unreconciled that I am still.  People around me with the same lump in their throat are vanishing day by day. I despise this flaw of insincere, opportunist poets whose verse simulated Osmosis between this and the other Bangla. We are no Germans, we shall never get back our land.




     Is not poetry born out of such catastrophes?  When the East Pakistanis were butchered up by their military of the western counterpart, literary scene in Bengal was almost inundated with remarkable poems.  Each and every little magazine issued this very special Ekushe (21st) February edition with religious fervor.  That was fine indeed.  But now, when the Chakmas, the innocent Chakmas are abused, looted, robbed of their honour, are finally kicked out of their homeland, previously East Pakistan too seek shelter in the foreign soil of India, how can these same poets be so vulgarly tongue-lied? Is not it because the Chakmas are never the readers of Bengali poetry.


      So, where does this tale of displacement lead us to?  If metaphor is never apolitical, why should not it be throttled?  Manindra Gupta’s prose in this assertion, though the discourse of his poetry is markedly different, seeking after that beyond-history cosmic time, freely wandering about that mulberry tree.  The second volume of his autobiography ends up with –


       How do I say adieu?  How does one bid a farewell?  My voice was choked I felt like that elephant, sinking deeper and deeper into that muddy bottomless pit. Well, that was silly enough.  I could still see above, the Leo, the Jupiter, the grand milky way winking at me and I knew it for sure, that even beyond, there is always the unruly infinity.


        Reading Manindra Gupta’s is thus a unique feel.  The reader, in spite of himself is suddenly liberated from his media-trained eyes, statist aesthetics, cultural heterogeneously, territory, class, economics, religion, logistics, civilization and displacement.  His poetry as a jihad against progressivism and colonial modernity carried one far back into one primordial origin where there is no construct of man, no more deconstructions and no more displacement.


     Is not ‘writing’ itself an exercise in dislocation? Segregated from one’s consciousness, voice, sensitivity, writing especially poetry becomes a complex labyrinthine space overlapping the chronicle of the homogeneous empty time.  It has a history of its own, a history beyond senses, a history beyond history.  Split up from one’s family, society, nation, geography, language, if only a man is capable enough to discover this cosmic space?


VII. Ethics and Aesthetics of Media

Speaker: Ranabir Samaddar


This note is presented in the spirit of cutting new grounds for discussion. Since we all in our lives are at times gazing at others and at other times being observed, reported upon, and analyzed – the power relation that informs this act of gazing cannot escape our attention. Probably we cannot do away with the act of gazing; all the more important is to be aware of this, make appropriate inferences, and draw our strategies to cope with this, and make the whole thing stand on its head, that is to say, let us watch the watcher. That is what the politics of justice and rights demands of us. The question would be: where does justice feature in this relationship of the watcher and the watched?


            1. By media I of course employ here the conventional sense of its usage, though I shall try to make the point that media does indicate something beyond the banal. Possibly a way out of the closed situation, the closure alluded above, lies there. Media is medium, yet the dynamics of institutional practices compel the world to accept the role of a medium that goes far beyond acting just as medium. American romantics like Marshall MacLuhan and Lewis Mumford long back noted this when they found that medium had the tendency to become the message; therefore they started working on alternative ideas of communicating. The point to be sure is: can we really put our trust in reforming a media which through its sheer institutional dynamics will sit on our heads and conjure up a half-fictive public to decide what is going to be the public voice, public opinion etc? Or, do we, belonging to a critical politics of justice, need to imagine newer ways of communicating?


            2. There are studies available on the political economy of the media. Yet, these will not be enough to explain the particular character of a medium that becomes “the media” sitting on the society whose medium it was to be. We need to study the architecture of this particular act of gazing. We do not simply gaze, we gaze at; we gaze upon. It is the economy of this aesthetics, the moral economy of the media that we must pay attention to. And it is here where we see the power of boundary-making exercise – by the act of gaze we produce boundary. Some of you may know that in each election time in India, journalists produce fantastic psephological arithmetic, which we have no way of verifying. I had a quarrel long back with some political scientists who following Paul Brass were popularizing the theory of a Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh, and citing story after story from the newspapers to prove that there was indeed a “Muslim vote” in India. Gazing is a physical act, a practice that turns into a massively organized institutional practice of society dividing the society into the gazer and the gazed. In a detailed study on two successive elections in India in late eighties and early nineties (subsequently revised as a chapter in A Biography of the Indian Nation) I quarrelled with the “Muslim vote” theory and the way elections were covered in newspapers and scholarly articles - as campaigns, as the act of delivering judgment on the polity, and last but not least, as the act of voting with feet, and I argued that the world of elections was not only one of democratic politics, but of making new boundaries, and where they were not existing, making them, “discovering them”. This is an intensely physical process; the glare of its institutionalized nature hides in its light the physicality or the materiality of this act of power.


            3. You may reasonably ask: Why must the gazer divide the gazed into clusters - the classic boundary-making exercise? Why can the gazers not gaze at the gazed as an undifferentiated mass? Here comes the issue of governing, the rules of classifying, ordering, categorizing, and through this normalizing practice disciplining of the people. I submit, the act of boundary making between entities, within entities, is a way to discipline the ungovernable masses, but the point to note here, is that the route is one of normalization of boundaries to make the unruly turbulent world of flows governable. I am presenting before you, in shorthand of course, various scenarios – world of flows, of vertical and horizontal borders, of a rainbow situation, of concentric circles, and of interacting spheres. A variety of configurations, in which the media, as used in the banal sense, strictly features in one segment only, the second one. This calls for sober assessment of its role, capacity, and performance. The world of news is like a great running story - a myth-making exercise on the wheels - where other myths are also powerful, and let us not forget that news do not make revolutions, while rumours may. Therefore, the spatial imagery that I shall call upon you to invoke is one of “thousand plateaus”, not neatly divided and bounded entities.


            4. Yet, like myths, this mythological world of borders and boundaries too has a kernel of truth. Borders cannot be wished away, nor can be wished away the phenomenon of the production of boundaries. Where do we stand then in this respect? First, as I indicated, news is “after the fact”. But once news becomes “fact”, this acquires a life of its own. The play of shadow and light, of fact and myth, is one of the most hallucinatory exercises in which the community of gazers and the gazed is involved. The critical point is to catch this world of chiaroscuro, that is to say, turn the hunter into hunted, and the gazer into the gazed, and show that the world of flux is like “fragile immobility”, and the moral guardians of this holy book of borders who want to immortalize the immobile world are themselves mortal animals of a mobile world. To speak in plain language, I am suggesting that media should be treated as one of the several actors in a deadly game of flux.


            5. Yet to say this is not enough. The fact is that, once we rid ourselves of the cliché of presenting media as “representing” something, and take it as an actor, as a political act, we shall see that indeed this is a deadly world of killings, bruising clashes between and among races, groups, and communities, and wars of survival and extermination, where lines are being drawn, drawbridges are being pulled, fingers are firmly on the trigger, and media’s act of dividing is just replicating what is going on at a physical level, in this world, in front of our eyes, where boundary-making exercise is no more and no less than a part of the perpetual war we find ourselves in. We are all waiting with held breath for the final encounter, where classes, groups, and people are preparing for the final round. No information is unmarked by this divide, no communication by this medium called “the media” (the complex of financial-technological-organizational enterprise of gazing) can cross the divide. If the Red Cross is pulling much of its establishment out of Iraq, it is because the hour of reckoning of many humanitarian agencies and in general humanitarian politics before the tribunal of justice has arrived in Iraq; if even the UN can become the target of rage for the same reason, the day is not far off when media people will also be counted for where they stand in this world, which resembles more and more like divided cities, walled towns whose ramparts desperately try to ward off the onrushing invaders. The sanity of the media cannot defeat the madness of the masses – on one hand news, on the other hand, rumour, frenzy, and madness. In a bizarre way the media does tell us of the dividing lines, of course in a mythic way. But then modern story telling is all about that.


            6. The media as we know has two functions, which are often confused – its function relating to information and its function relating to communication. Its information generating, collecting, collating, and distribution capacity has relation to its capacity to communicate, but is not the same as latter. Because information as I said little while ago is after the fact, its information-related function is mediated through its function to communicate. In order to make the world communicable that information is ordered in a particular way, here again the relevance of its boundary-fixing function – media has to decide who needs what, when, and to what degree. Anyone familiar with news-room organization, the work flow on the shop floor of the news-factory, the chain of command in circulation and distribution of news, from the brutal physical act of gathering news to the presentation of the polished product knows how at each level script works – the script of classifying news according to classifiable readers, listens, and viewers. This great script of ordering the gazed world is one of border and boundary making. In this sense, the journalist (be it the desk-person or the foot-reporter) can be a journalist only because she works in the media. But to escape the great divide between media and the rest, she can be anything except a journalist. For instance, she wants to dig deep into the archival data on the Mac Mohan Line, she is a historian-investigator; she wants to know and write of the nature of a dispute around a common resource like river water, she is an ecologist; she wants to know why the Nellie (Assam) massacre took place, she is a political anthropologist; she wants to let the world know her views, she is a publicist. I can go on. The point I am trying to make is that the media person in order to understand and report on events and the structure of the phenomena of borders and boundaries has to un-become. Yet, this should not surprise us – for we are in any event witnessing the death of the journalist in the sense that her autonomy within the structure of the media is gone. She cannot produce a “journal”, a “diary”. Romantics are therefore dissenters – only they can cross the inside/outside divide, for they are the animals of today’s world of flux. It is important therefore to understand how the duality of information and communication plays itself out again and again – for inside/outside is primarily a matter of communication, not information. Communication is never civil, egalitarian, and open-ended; if anything it is an action in the field of contested conversation. What I call as the “the radical incommensurability” of the phenomenon of flux with a practice and technique that wants to catch the world in frame is something I want you to think of. 


            7. Yet the world moves in its strange manner. Therefore the more media reproduces the borders, the more mythical it becomes, the more its appearance as a storyteller. Thus the distinction between fiction and non-fiction – the two categories of creative writing vanishes. Between narrating events and reporting, between press reports and commenting, editing and sub-editing, between posters, leaflets, and news as documents, the line becomes thinner and thinner. It is then that you have the revenge of the flow on a practice that thrives to keep the world in a frame. The plasticity of this medium is a double edge. Its mass circulation and appeal is an asset and burden. In order to communicate it has to order the recipients of its communiqués in categories. Yet, while doing so, it tries to retain the claim to universality — therefore it is the most modern storyteller – in the process it has mellowed the lines it created. The media coverage on Gujarat riots is a clear pointer to the paradox.


            8. If I am allowed to put what I have said little differently by way of concluding, it will be like this: It is not enough to say that there are no absolute truths in social facts, and therefore we should study the dynamics of representation, it is of absolute importance to note the political economy of the media in this age of cultural studies where political economy and the general economy of representation have been removed from the gaze. Yet, it is important to study media practices today even more closely, because what is at stake here is not aesthetics or representation, but the material practices of what is termed as “media”, one of whose functions is making bodies - the bodies of those who report, document, and photograph more “docile” - also those who read, listen to, and hear equally “docile”. And it does not end here - the effort is on to make the instruments of reporting, writing, broadcasting, also more “docile”. Indeed we must ask at one stage, is plasticity of the medium not inherently disciplinarian, and therefore the question, what can be done to liberate the aesthetics of representation from the sinister plasticity, that allows it to be universal in reach at the very time when it is segmenting the world of information and communication in various ways? How can a politics of rights and justice engage with the plasticity of a medium that “inherently” so to say makes itself an opponent of justice? The implication is that we have to study the practices of countering the representational tactics and strategies, alternative attempts, of drop-outs from this world of representational games, more because this plasticity of the media sits well with the politics of numbers...Justice demands going beyond numbers, it means adjudication (rigorous or reconciling) over, say, an incident involving a lower caste boy having a fling at an upper caste girl with consequent outrage and violence, or say a dispute between the water starved people of an area with the rain and river water fed people of another area, or the great quarrel between a large number of people of the world impatient for development and a less number of well-fed, well-clothed people who need environmental guarantees from the entire world, or closer home, between fair labour practices advocates and ravaged people who send their children to work in factories, tanneries, and workshops. How will we negotiate these borders and divisions? How shall we decide? Any news here, any reporting here, to be sure has very little significance in terms of making a moral choice. Politics of justice in such circumstance tells us to be critical, also to prise open the options. I want to recall the ironic words of Roland Barthes who commented in Empire of Signs on “trying to destroy the wolf by lodging comfortably in its gullet”. In this aberrant exercise, we frankly need big logs from outside to displace the behemoth. When I wrote The Marginal Nation as an account of the world of flows, where border exists during the day and vanishes at night, one of my senior colleagues advised me to re-word the title as “The Marginal Elements of the Nation”. I could not defer to the judgement, because I was not writing on marginal elements, but on the marginality of the nation itself in borderlands. There you find a different world, the whole situation reminding us “a number of ways of seeing a cloud – a camel, a weasel, a whale…”


            9. Turn, as the philosopher of aesthetics once said, the gallery upside down, nothing would change except some inconsequential inversion of top, down or right, left. For, we would have irretrievably dismissed political unilateral-ism and monologues, and ushered in a federal organization of the political space, also poly-vocal communication. We shall be able to live without the agonies of being chained to, and therefore without carrying the anxiety of protecting, the centred space of which we are a part because we had related as parts to a centre. In that world of communication lies our democratic future; also the romance of striving towards that world.


VIII. Victim’s Right to Communicate

Speaker Samir Kumar Das


Although in common parlance victims of forced displacement are often clubbed together as a single and monolithic category, there are significant variations in the nature and extent of victim-hood suffered by them. Thus, the victims of development-induced displacement constitute a category by themselves, separate in many ways from those who have been displaced as a result of say, interethnic conflicts and civil war. The first category of victims may have lost their homesteads or cultivable lands but may continue to subscribe to the same development paradigm and view displacement as one of its unavoidable costs that one should bear albeit with great pain, in the collective interest of the nation and its development. The same person on the other hand, may find ethnic violence simply macabre and senseless and hence is detrimental to the national interest. It could as well be the other way round. One who finds ethnic violence as the only means of asserting one’s identity is unlikely to discover any virtue in the development of the nation as a vibrant, multicultural entity. The graded nature of victim-hood therefore can hardly escape our notice.


Communicating rights claims

Accordingly the rights to be enjoyed by them are not of one and the same type. One wonders whether it will ever be possible for us to evolve an agenda of rights that will be common to all of them. Notwithstanding the differences that their respective agendas might reflect, the defining principles on the basis of which they make their rights claims including of course the right to information and communication are unlikely to be substantially different from each other. For it involves the larger task of transforming the victim into an active and creative agent capable of communicating her claim to rights and thereby transcending her victim-hood. Victim’s rights first of all imply positioning her as a rights-bearing agent who is entitled and can take part in the society’s ongoing discourse on rights. It is by way of claiming the rights that the victim hopes to make a difference in her own life and also in the social life as well and exercises her creativity. Rights according to this view, are inconceivable without such agency and creativity.


            The term ‘rights’ in our context may be used in two rather diametrically opposed senses – universal and communicative. In the first sense, all human beings by virtue of being human beings are entitled to some rights that are defined as the conditions of their survival as human beings. These rights are usually known as human rights. One’s right to life may be regarded as an example of such rights. In other words, one does not have to make a case for and argue in favour of these rights. They are too obvious and self-evident to be claimed. There are indeed problems associated with such a universalistic notion of rights. While all human beings qua human beings are entitled to human rights, there is certainly no guarantee that all of them will be successful or at least, equally successful in enjoying them. Entitlement certainly is not enjoyment. Ironically, while a mechanism for enforcing these rights becomes necessary, there is hardly any guarantee that it will remain ever so faithful to these universal rights and enable us to enjoy them. Moreover, what if the rights are violated on the ground that the aggressor does not consider the victims as human beings so much so that violation of their rights does not amount to human rights violations? One of the running themes of the hate literature that grew at the time of Gujarat carnage (2002) is that the so-called victims, for whom the ‘pseudo-secularists’ seem to be shedding tears, do not deserve to be called ‘human beings’ in the first place. The invectives hurled against them actually invoke ‘animal’ and sub-human imageries. Violation of human rights especially during group violence is usually preceded by such a process of de-humanization and hardly evokes any sense of guilt in the minds of its perpetrators.


            Rights in the second sense, exist primarily as claims couched in reasons put across and expounded by those who claim them, that is to say, the claimants. The reasons they advance must be both intelligible and plausible to those from whom they are claimed. Unless they sound intelligible and plausible, the claimants cannot ‘hold them under some obligation or duty’ that is essential for their entitlement to and enjoyment of these rights. Rights in the second sense therefore presuppose a contact – a communication between those who claim them and those from whom they are claimed. Liberal theory of rights looks upon the state with an innate sense of suspicion and necessarily as a potent threat to individual and group rights.


Communication contra nation

It is in the context of the communication between the two apparently opposing parties that the victim’s right to information and communication acquires some importance. Although claimed in the same breadth, right to information will have to be distinguished from right to communication. For one thing, victim’s right to information is taken to mean merely her right to be informed of her imminent displacement reasonably well before the actual displacement takes place — presumably by being served with a legal notice and most importantly, of her entitlements and compensations if there are any, in the event of any such displacement. She is the passive recipient of this information and it is now up to her to take appropriate steps in order to make the process less painful. Right to communication on the other hand is her right to act on the information. This for example, gives her the right to organize the victims, create a common political platform for them and protest against the policies that lead to displacement and if possible, to stall it whether by seeking legal remedies or through peaceful agitation and struggles, so on and so forth. Right to communication confers on the victim some form of agency. For another, right to information is claimed and enjoyed without interrogating in any manner the sacrosanct nature of the so-called ‘collective goal’ that causes or threatens to cause displacement. It is always in the interest of ‘national security’ or ‘national development’ that one gets displaced. While any displacement is painful and agonizing, it per se is neither unconstitutional nor illegal in India or for that matter, in any part of South Asia. Displacement as we have said is the ‘necessary cost’ involved in accomplishing some ‘collective goal’. When in the wake of the attack on Indian Parliament the entire Indo-Pak border and the line of control were heavily mined and the people and the cattle settled there had to lose their lives and limbs, many of us think that it is in the interest of the nation that such sundry losses are suffered and the doctrine of ‘necessary cost’ is constantly invoked to justify them. Right to information in short is constitutive of the grand collectivity that we call, nation. Right to communication on the other hand cannot be claimed without opposing in some way or the other, the ‘collective goal’ that is invariably invoked while displacing the victims. It is a right that individuates the victim and isolates her from the collectivity. While claiming this right, she always runs the risk of being stigmatized as ‘anti-national’ and ‘unpatriotic’ and situates her at the wrong end of the national divide.


            Right to information viewed in this light is of limited value. First of all, it is critically dependent on the availability of information and unless the provider obliges, one can hardly enjoy this right. The victim has her reasons of being informed as much as the state as the potential provider has its reasons of denying it. It is a right that is predicated on the provider’s prerogative. What if in the interest of the nation, certain types of information are classified as sensitive and are withheld from public consumption? The imperative of nationhood sets forth the broad parameters within which information is provided and accessed and is supposed to circulate and be exchanged. Secondly, information we may have, but what do we do with that? The Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) of Rajasthan for example, launched a movement in the early 1990s demanding the villagers’ right to access the files relating to public works of the government and obtain duly authenticated copies of the official papers so that they can be sustained in the courts of law. By 1994, the organization became only partially successful. The government decided to open files for people’s inspection, but did not grant them the right to obtain photocopies, let alone, the duly attested and authenticated ones. It only means that the people may have the information about corruption at high places of government, but they cannot establish it in any court of law for they do not have the information that has any juridical status worth its name. Implicit in it, there is the subtle distinction between truth and the establishability of truth: that we know the truth is not enough for it does not mean that we can successfully establish it by way of following the same rules and protocols that the society’s established ‘regime of truth’ imposes on us. This is perhaps the reason why the rape victims more often than not find it impossible to bring the convicts to book. 


Communication and its limits

The imperative of making the rights claims intelligible and plausible to those who are responsible for the displacement of the victims of course restricts the field of communication by the victims. It renders certain claims to rights simply incommunicable and screens them off from the public domain. Right to communication is not necessarily the communication of rights. Rights in simple terms, do not exhaust the entire field of communication and in our pursuit of this right, we must not lose sight of those other means ad forms of communication through which victims try to communicate their claims. I propose to elaborate this argument by way of referring to the narrative that one can reconstruct from an interview of Ms. Arati Dasgupta facing the threat of being displaced from what she considers as her ‘home’, as a result of the government’s decision of widening the Beliaghata Circular Canal (in north Kolkata) as part of urban planning. The government felt it necessary in order to save the city from heavy water logging during rainy season by way of enhancing the water-carrying capacity of these canals. It is interesting to examine the reasons she expounds in support of her claim to the right against displacement. When asked how she had come to settle in the place from where she now faces the threat of being evicted, she replies:


            With God. I came here holding the hands of God. Don’t you believe? This is my motherland. I had nobody. On the other hand, I had everybody. My mother died after giving birth to me. I have never seen my father. The people on the banks of this canal raised me. One grandma raised me up during my childhood at her place. She too died when the ice factory had caught fire. Believe me, my dear sister (in a reference to the interviewer, SKD); I grew old by crawling on this soil and bathing in this canal. You will see, no one will be able to evict me. I came here holding the hands of God. Only God will be able to lift me up. It does not matter whether my home is destroyed. How can they deprive me of this soil and sky? (Trans. mine)


            A careful reading of the above narrative brings us face to face to face with at least two broad principles that expressly run counter to the reasons of the modern state — from whom she sought to claim her right to home. As a result, she will find it absolutely impossible to make her rights claims sound intelligible and plausible to the state: First, natural endowments (like, soil and sky) are a divine gift and therefore for everyone to enjoy. We can cite the example of Lakshmi – another woman who was facing the same threat. The world she says, has place for the garbage heaps to be dumped. She has no place for home. As she observes: “Let us remain like garbage heaps dumped at one corner. My dear sister (with an obvious reference to her interviewer, SKD), are to remain with our feet hanging in mid-air? We too are creatures of this world. Isn’t there anything left in our part?” How can she survive without a place where she can rest her feet? In simple terms, some form of a divine theory is invoked in support of their claim to right to home. Secondly, she establishes her claim by way of emphasizing the fact that she was raised in the same place — in the new home of her neighbours, crawled on the soil and took bath in the same canal. The fact that she was raised here makes her an integral part of the culture of the locality and most importantly, makes her feel at home in the same place. Home is not simply a piece of land and a structure that can be owned and transferred at one’s will. By home, she understands a space where one can feel at home and does not feel homeless.   


            The principles mentioned above do not qualify as what the protagonists of the modern liberal state call, ‘public reasons’. For one thing, public reason stipulates that one’s claim to right must be informed by a concern for ‘common good’ or what we have described as, national interest. If Arati Dasguptas and Lakshmis are to be evicted in the interest of saving the city from regular floods and of the collectivity of city-dwellers, then they can voice their rights claims only in opposition to the ‘common good’ of the collectivity in question. The irony of the situation is that they can express their claims only at the risk of alienating the larger collectivity. Secondly, the protagonists agree that God has given the endowments for everyone’s use but God as Locke tells us, has also given us ‘reason to make use of them to the best advantage of life and convenience’. Since reason is innate to the person and hence to be regarded as personal property, it entitles him to whatever he makes of the natural endowments and it as Locke categorically informs us, ‘excludes the common right of other men’. The state therefore understands only the language of ownership titles established by the due process of law. Dasgupta and Lakshmi do not have any legally valid paper establishing their claims to the place where they live. Other examples are not uncommon. Why do the Chakmas who lost their homes and cultivable lands in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh in the mid-1960s when the Kaptai dam on the river Karnaphuli was constructed, find it difficult now to merely prove that they were once the inhabitants of the same land? Precisely because they inhabited it for generations without ever bothering to get their titles registered. Precisely because their ancestors never considered it as the means of establishing one’s right.


            Don’t the reasons of the modern state render the reasons of the victims incommunicable through the dominant language of rights? Doesn’t communication as a strategy call for a certain disentangling of these two kinds of reasons? Communication of the victims’ reasons is possible only by transcending the rules and limits set forth by the public domain. 


Section Three

The Programme


Creative Writers’ Workshop on Forced Displacement of Population

Organized by Calcutta Research Group

(From 6 to 10 November 2003)

Venue: Tourist Lodge (Conference Hall)

Darjeeling, West Bengal




November 6, 2003,Thursday

Day I: Arrival

Inaugural Session: 5.00 PM to 7.30 PM

Chair: Ranabir Samaddar

                                                Welcome Address: Pradip Kumar Bose

                                                About the Workshop:     Samir Kr. Das

                                                Keynote Address: K. G. Kannabiran

                                                Perspectives on Displacement: News,

                                                Administration & the Victims’ Rights:                                                                                                                   Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury                         

                                                Vote of Thanks: Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty       

7.30 PM to 8.00 PM

Focusing the Displaced

                                                The Photo Exhibition by R. R.     Srinivasan


November 7, 2003, Friday

Day II: 9.00 AM to 10.30 AM

Business Session I: Media Audit

Chair: Pradip Bose

Participants’ Discussion on Writing Displacement: Creativity versus Objectivity


                                                Pamela Philipose

                                                Subir Bhaumik

                                                Kalpana Kannabiran


Tea Break: 10.30 AM to 11.00 AM        

Business Session II: 11.00 AM to 1.00 PM        

Auditing the Media: Case Studies

Chair: Subhas Ranjan Chakrabarty

The J & K


                                                Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

The Northeast


                                                Bhupen Sarmah


Lunch Break:1.00 PM to 2.00 PM                     


Business Session II Contd. : 2.00 PM to 3..30 PM                    

West Bengal


                                                Krishna Bandyopadhyay


Coffee Break: 3.30 PM to 4.00 PM


Business Session III: 4.00 PM to 5.30 PM         

Peace and Human Rights in Contemporary India

Summing Up by the Chairman

[Participants willing to take lead in the discussion may indicate their


Briefing on Participants’ Assignment Writing by Paula Banerjee :

7.00 PM to 7.30 PM


November 8, 2003, Saturday


Business Session IV: 9.00 AM to 10.30 AM

Gender Sensitivity in Contemporary Indian Writings on


Chair: Paula Banerjee    


                        Urvasi Butalia


Tea Break: 10.30 AM to 11.00 AM        


Business Session V: 11.00 AM to 1.00 PM

Creative Responses to Displacement: Participants’ Discussion

Glimpses of Writings in South Asian Languages   

Bengali Writings on Partition and Forced Migration:

                        Subhendu Dasgupta

                        Anirban Mukhopadhyay

Nepalese/English Writings by/on Bhutanese Refugees:

                        Jagat Acharya

[Participants willing to take lead may indicate their preferences]


Lunch Break: 1.00 PM to 2.00 PM        


Public Lecture : 2.30 PM to 4.00 PM

Media and Conflicts

Chair: Ranabir Samaddar


                        Urvasi Butalia

Business Session V: 5.00 PM to 7.30 PM         

Film Showing

Introducing the Films by Subhendu Dasgupta & Manas Ray

Film Titles

                                                 1         When the Guests Stayed On

                                                            Duration 37 minutes

                                                            Script & Direction: G Suzan & J Menzel


                                                 2         Black Rider

                                                            Duration: 35 minutes

                                                            Script & Direction: P. Danquart


Participants’ Discussion to follow

Peace and Theater in Jammu & Kashmir

                                                            Prabodh Jamwal 


November 9, 2003, Sunday

Day IV: Editing & Reporting

Business Session VI: 9.00 AM to 10.30 AM

Panel Discussion on Ethics and Politics of Reporting and Editing

Chair: Subhas Ranjan Chakrabarty


                       Audio Visual Clippings on Displacement and the Politics of Editing by              

                                   Subir Bhaumik

                       Reporting and Politics of Editing by        

                                   Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury

                       Ethics and Aesthetics of Reporting and Communication by

                                   Ranabir Samaddar


Tea Break: 10.30 AM to 11.00 AM       


Business Session VII: 11.00 PM to 1.00 PM

Victim’s Right to Communicate

Chair: Sanjib Baruah


                       Samir Kr. Das   


Lunch Break: 1.00 PM to 2.00 PM       


Business Session VIII: 2.00 PM to 3.30 PM     

Face to Face with the Editors:

Chair: Samir Kr. Das

                        RW: Paula Banerjee

                        Khonj Ekhan: Krishna Bandyopadhyay

                        Grassroots Options: Sanat  Chakraborty

                        Kashmir Times: Anuradha B. Jamwal

[Participants to prepare for interviewing the Editors]


Coffee Break: 3.30 PM to 4.00 PM                   


Business Session IX: 4.00 PM to 5.30 PM        

Literary Readings on Partition in the East

Moderator: Pradip Bose


                 Manas Ray


November 10, 2003, Monday

Day V: Assessment and Veledictory

Business Session X: 9.00 AM to 10.30 AM

Writing as a Strategy: Participants’ Response

Moderator: Sabyasachi B. R. Chaudhury

Tea Break: 10.30 AM to 11.00 AM        


Business Session XI: 11.00 PM to 1.00 PM       

Valedictory Session

Chair: Subhas Ranjan Chakrabarty

                        Presentation of the Rapporteur’s Report

                        Award of Certificates     

                        Valedictory Address: Ranabir  Samaddar

                        Vote of Thanks: Sabyasachi B. R. Chaudhury

Lunch Break: 1.00 PM to 2.00 PM                                           


Free time: 2.00 PM to 6.00 PM

Cultural Evening: 7.00 PM to 8.00 PM


Evaluator: Subhendu Dasgupta



Section Four

List of Participants


Jagat Mani Acharya                                                 Hari Prasad Adhikari

3/23, Shree Durbar Tole                                            Bhutanese Refugee Camp

Patan Dhaka                                                             Beldangi II, Sector G4 #03

Lolitpur, Nepal                                                           Jhapa- Nepal                            

Phone: 00977-1-4781666                                           Phone: 009772381782

Email:-                                              Email:


Nesar Ahmed                                                            Dipankar Basu

A-55, Abdul Fazal                                                      DGAHC, Red Cross Road

Enclave                                                                    DR S. M. Das Road

New Delhi-1100025                                                   PO & DT: Darjeeling

Mobile: 9899261902                                                  Pin: 734101

Email:                            Phone: 0354-2253632 (o)

                                                                                          0354-2253653 (R)



Sanjib Baruah                                                         Subir Bhaumik

Shankar Path                                                            63C, Ibrahimpur Road Kol-32

Hati Gaon                                                                 Phone: 24131828 (R)

Guwahati – 781006                                                              24131956

Assam                                                                                22882609 (O)

Phone: 0361-2230736 (Res.)                                      Fax: 22882608

            0361-2663372 (Office)                                   Email:    

            0361-2668321 (Office)                              

Fax: 0361-2663589



Pradip Kumar Bose                                                  Urvashi Butalia

363, Parnasree Pally, Kol-60                                      B-26 Gulmohar Park

Phone: 24627252 (O), 24512482 (R)                           New Delhi – 110049

Email:                                       Phone: 011-26854914



Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty                                 Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury

BB-45, Flat No.1                                                      56A, B.T. Road, Kol- 50

Salt Lake, Kol-64                                                     Phone:- 25577161/3028/4028,    

Phone: 23379786/23596723                                     Ext. 230

Email:                         Mobile: 9830229434



Tulsi Dabadi                                                          Samir Kumar Das

Bhutanese Refugee Camp,                                       Flat-B3, 6/8 Central Park, Kol-32

Beldangi I, Jhapa Nepal                                            Phone: 24254023

                                                                             Mobile: 9830210265



Kartick Das                                                            Abhijit Das

St. Joseph’s College                                                 Vill: Amtala

Department of political science                                  PO:- Kanyanagar

P.O:- North Point, Darjeeling                                     Dist.:- 24 PGS (S), West Bengal

West Bengal: 734104                                                Pin: 743398

Mobile: 98320814222                                                Phone: 24709731

Email:                                  Mobile: 21009115



Subhendu Dasgupta                                               Subhabrata Dutta

49/24/2 Prince Golam Mohammad Shah Road             ‘Surodhanidham’

Kolkata-700033                                                        Bhadrapur, Birbhum

Phone: 24141207                                                      Pin- 731203

Email:                      West Bengal

                                                                               Phone: 03465-260201



Anuradha Bhasin Jamawal                                      Prabodh Jamawal

E.P. Flats No 307                                                     Kashmir Times Building

Wazarat Road                                                         Residency Road

Jammu – 180001 (J&K)                                            Jammu (J&K) Pin-180001

Phone: 0191-2543676, 2543733 (O)                       Phone: 2543676, 2543733, and  2547937 0191-2544222 (R) Mobile: 9419188389 (Mobile)                                    Fax: 2542028                                                 

 Fax: 0191-2542028                                                Email:     




Zilkia Janer                                                           Kalpana Kannabiran

Shankar Path                                                          Asmita Resource Centre for Women

Hati Gaon                                                               Plot 283, Street 6, Teachers’ Colonywahati – 781003

Phone: 0361- 223-0736                                           East Marredapally, Secunderabad School

Email:                                        Phone: 040-27733251

                                                                             Fax: 040-27733745



K. G. Kannabiran                                                 Ugen Lama

128 East Marredpalli                                                Singmari, PO:- North Point

Secunderabad – 500026                                          District – Darjeeling

Andhara Pradesh                                                    Pin: 734104

Phone: 27730632                                                   Telephone: 2270215

Fax: 27738632



Deepti Mahajan                                                    Sabir Ahmed Middya

E-14, Naveen Shahdoara                                        37B, Dr. Sudhir Bose Road

Delhi                                                                     Kolkata – 700 023

Phone: 011-22597726                                             Phone: 033-24485484 (R)

Email:                             033-24649596 (O)




Monika Mondal                                                    Anirban Mukhopadhyay

Jadavapur University                                             2, J. N. S. Road, Kol-35

Room No-8 Old P.G.                                              Phone: 2564-1114

Kolkata – 32

Phone: 24146019 / 24452210


Ayan Mukherjee                                                    Pamela Philipose

28/A, Mohendra Bose Lane                                      S-314 Panchshila Park

Kolkata – 700 003                                                   New Delhi – 110 017

Phone: +91-33-25309541/25551523/25433831          Phone: 26017331

Fax: +91-33-28430767                                            Email:

Mobile: 9830061163



Manas Roy                                                              Ranabir Samaddar

R1, Baushnabghata Patuli Township                           Calcutta Research Group

Kolkata-700094                                                       5B, Mahanirban Road, Kol-29

Phone:-24176329(R)                                                Ph: 24640079

            24627252 (O)                                              Email:



R. R. Srinivasan

R-103, Ruby Block

Sudsun Gems Parks Mugappeir West,


Phone: 044-26533336

Mobile: 09444065336