Taking Refuge in the City: Migrant Population and Urban Management in Post-Partition Calcutta

This paper tries to lay bare the intertwined histories of rehabilitation of the refugees from East
Pakistan and the development of the city of Calcutta in the initial decades after the partition of
British India. Calcutta has attracted people from outside from its inception. Calcutta of the late eighteenth century has been described as a ‘contact zone’, where people from various fields and
countries, of varied descent, came to the city with their specific knowledge practices.1
With the
consolidation of the colonial rule, several classes of people flocked to the city—be it the
quintessential salaried professionals or the keranis, the Marwari businessmen, the students from
East Bengal or the upcountry labouring poor. It emerged as a cosmopolitan city par excellence.

Sengupta, Kaustubh Mani