Peopling the Chars
This chapter focuses on the migration history of the chars and shows that people arrived on chars from different areas at different times. Both groups of migrants—Biharis and Bangladeshis—who live on the Damodar chars have a tradition of outmigration from their own lands. At present, the majority of char dwellers belong to the Bangladeshi Hindu community and these refugees were granted patta to settle on chars by the district government of Burdwan after the Partition. The char dwellers live in a hostile environment, coping with floods, using skills and resources they have learned over years of experience with this phenomenon either in Bangladesh or in India. Chars could be only one area where the lower castes settled on the Indian side of the border. Geography and history come together in exploring twentieth-century legacies of colonial rule and in viewing divisions such as the Partition as political solutions.
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