The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

Spectacles of militarization

Malini Sur

In September 2013, a United Nations population factsheet reported that Asia hosted the second-highest number of international migrants (after Europe) and the largest number of refugees.2 The factsheet contributed to explosive debates on the India-Bangladesh border, a product of political events in 1947 and 1971. It corroborated that there were 3.2 million Bangladeshis residing in India. Indian political parties quickly used this data to validate India’s fear of ‘infiltrating’ Bangladeshis. Bangladesh predictably rejected the statistics. The release of the UN report in 2013 coincided with civil society protests in Bangladesh over India’s ‘shoot to kill’ policy at the border. The same month, an Indian border constable, Amiya Ghosh, who had shot fifteen-year-old Felani Khatun, was acquitted. Felani’s body hung from India’s new border fence with Bangladesh. The fence – a project under construction – substantially re-configures the border landscape that cuts across heavily militarized northeast India, which shares complicated boundaries with Bangladesh.