Basirhat Reports/Part IV. How Divisive Forces Are Gaining Ground In Rural Bengal: Magurkhali, A Micro Example

Biswajit Roy

Biswajit is a journalist and associated with democratic movements.

Read Part I: The Social-political Backdrop To The Communal Violence
Read Part II : The Dynamics Of Communal Polarization In Bengal: A Probe Into Baduria-Basirhat Flare Up
Read Part III : Facebook Generation: New Pawns Of The Old Game

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The Magurkhali elders denied any history of sustained communal discord in the Muslim-dominated area which may have poisoned the young minds such as Souvik’s. But the social-political texture in and around the village has been changing fast leading to strong communal undercurrent, they felt. Disputes over land following demographic changes, has been a potent issue for communal tension in bordering areas.

For the village Imam, the once Muslim dominated locality has witnessed ‘some cracks’ in communal amity following migration of some lower caste Hindus, mainly Namashudras and Poundrokhatriyas in ‘last few years’. He found them ‘aggressive and trouble-prone’ over the possession of vested land along the Magurkhali bil and Ichamati khal, a part of River Ichamati that marks Indo-Bangladesh border.  Some sectarian tension took place over the construction of a temple in the adjoining village, allegedly by encroaching land of a school which is dominated by Muslim students few years back, he said.

Hindus we spoke to denied land tension. Choudhury who claimed to be the ‘sole Brahmin family’ of the village also noted the arrival of ‘scheduled castes Hindus’ in droves from East Pakistan which later became Bangladesh over the decades. Some left home on their own for better pasture while others had been forced to leave after periodic persecution of minorities there. Some have settled on land purchased from both Hindus and Muslims as well as on vested government land. But he denied recent major changes in landholding pattern in the village. Mondol, a SC himself too observed the same.

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