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Refugee Resettlement in Forest Reserves: West Bengal Policy Reversal and the Marichjhapi Massacre

  • Ross Mallick

Extract

While boating down the ganges delta on a visit to the Reserve Forest Tiger Sanctuary, I noticed on the bank some idols overlooking the river. When I asked about their significance, it was explained that a tiger had killed and carried off a girl; these idols were meant to ward off future attacks. Since I was on tour with a West Bengal government Secretary who had police bodyguards to protect him against pirates and tigers, we had none of the apprehensions locals experienced. As the launch continued downstream, the conversation among the government officials took an unexpected turn. They talked of a massacre in the area of Untouchable refugees who had illegally settled in the protected forest reserve: the killings were said to number in the thousands of families.

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