Marichjhapi Massacre


Soumya Sankar Bose’s ‘Where the Birds Never Sing‘ is the book on Marichjhapi massacre, the forcible eviction in 1979 of Bengali refugees on Marichjhapi Island in Sundarban, West Bengal, India and the subsequent death of thousands by police gunfire, starvation, and disease. 

 After the partition of Bengal in 1947 many lower caste Bengalis who fled East Pakistan were aggressively sent to the infertile, inhospitable land of Central India. In 1977, the Left Front government came to power promising their refugee supporters to settle in West Bengal and they subsequently moved to Marichjhapi Island. But the government reneged on its promise, fearing that an influx of refugees might jeopardise the prospects of the state’s economic recovery,  and started to forcibly send them back to Central India. Survivors claim that on the morning of 31 January 1979, when some women tried to row boats to the next island to fetch drinking water, grains and medicine, the police rammed their launches into the boats and drowned all three. People who took boats into the river to save the drowning women were fired on by the police.

Thousands of refugees seeking their final home stayed in Marichjhapi, for the next year and a half.  It is close to impossible to trace the precise number of people that died in process during the exodus from central Indian camps to settlement in Marichjhapi, and the eventual police eviction drive sending them back to the camps. 

Bose, over the last few years, has been researching and re-enacting some memories of the survivors in specific locations, as there is very little written record of the incident. Through the intricate weaving of facts and fiction of existing oral histories of the real survivors, he brings to light several perspectives of the same narrative, forming a cryptic framework of this problematic history that is facing slow erasure from the memory of people.



Where the Birds never Sing by Soumya Sankar Bose

Text : Aditya Kumar | Soumya Sankar Bose | Annu Jalais

Design : Barnali Bose 

Book Video :

Pages : 140 pages

ISBN : 978-1-5136-6415-6

Price :
3150 INR(shipping included) in India, 70 USD (shipping included) outside India.

Special Edition : 12000 INR (First fifty signed copy with sequence Number and a post card)

Book reviews : 

British Journal of Photography : https://bit.ly/3m2AHwt
Collector-daily by Olga Yatskevich : https://bit.ly/36Tzy3s

Blind by Laurence Cornet : https://bit.ly/3jWnGUB
The Revealer : https://bit.ly/3hbBLKY
Samyak Drishti : https://bit.ly/3hb7pYL
Hindustan Times : https://bit.ly/33Pk3rK
Livemint : https://bit.ly/37Uq5Ly

This Project was supported by The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art, India foundation for the Arts, Magnum Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation & World Press Photo.

The Book was shortlisted for First Photobook award in the  Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards 2020.


PHmuseum’s Best Photobooks of 2020

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