Gaining a Ghetto: The Resettlement of Partition-affected Bengalis in New Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park

The Bengali sufferers of the tragic partition of India in 1947 have arguably failed to garner the political, policy, and discursive attention received by their West Pakistani or Punjabi counterparts. A case in point, Chittaranjan Park – a sub-urban neighborhood or colony of New Delhi granted as a ghetto to the Bengalis rendered rootless by the formation of East Pakistan – is rarely a muse for forays in partition studies or borderscaping. This paper, as an attempt to fill this void, traces the civil society-led lobbying movement for the carving out of Chittaranjan Park at the heart of India’s national capital, by largely relying on archived editions of the colony’s first newsletter. The narrative is linked to its contextual undercurrents of identity consciousness, state rehabilitation policy, civil-state relations, and local politics and economics by historical-evaluation. First, after highlighting how the Bengal chapter of the partition is often overlooked, this paper highlights the benefits that the then expanding city of Delhi offered its refugees in India. Second, it contrasts the Indian state’s policy response to the partition’s refugees from West Pakistan to those from the east. Third, it unpacks the idea of, and lobbying bid for, Chittaranjan Park, and examines if the colony qualifies as an ethnically-exclusive bordered space within a city.

Anubhav Roy
Taylor and Francis Online