Victory Colony, 1950 – Bhaswati Ghosh


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When she lands in Calcutta’s Sealdah railway station on a humid day in 1949, Amala Manna has managed to flee from the communal violence in her village, but not from all her trials. Within moments of crossing over to India as a refugee from East Pakistan, she loses Kartik, her younger brother. Thanks to a group of young volunteers, Amala finds her way to a refugee camp in Gariahata where she meets Manas Dutta, who is the leader of the volunteer group. Despite the sordid camp life, Amala finds sustenance in her quest to find Kartik and the new familial bonds the camp allows her to forge with complete strangers. With dwindling official support, the situation in the camp deteriorates, and the refugees take things into their own hands. They establish Bijoy Nagar—literally meaning Victory Colony—by occupying a zamindar’s vacant plot of land. This dramatic event is a harbinger of radical shifts in Amala’s personal life.

Victory Colony, 1950 is the story of the resilience of refugees from East Pakistan, who found themselves largely unwanted on either side of the border following the partition of India in 1947. In the face of government apathy and public disdain, the refugees built their lives from the bottom up with sheer hard work and persistence, changing, in the process, the socio-cultural landscape of Calcutta—the city they claimed as home—forever.


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