6 August


After the Inauguration of the Art Exhibition at KCC yesterday, I was very emotional & felt compelled to briefly document my KPMP journey - through 5 key August events - from 2016 to 2021. It happens to be the most traumatic half decade of my life... in which this project has assumed ever increasing importance.

AUGUST 2016 – Having decided to initiate a Partition Museum Project in Kolkata earlier in the year, I visit Berlin on a self-funded research trip to study its Holocaust Memorials. It is planned as the first of several stops in partitioned countries: the purpose is to study the specific memorialisation practices involved, try & gain insights from them & present my findings at a Conference next year. Meanwhile, soon after the trip, I write about it in The Wire.

AUGUST 2017 – I first broach the idea of building a Partition Museum in Kolkata, to primarily an academic audience, at an International Conference at the Indian Museum, which I co-convened with Prof. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay & Dr. Jayanta Sengupta. The Conference, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Partition, was featured in ABP & by AIR, among others.

AUGUST 2018 – The Kolkata Partition Museum Trust is registered, after a year of legwork & building a team. During this phase, I am also invited to speak on the nascent project at several premiere academic institutions.

AUGUST 2019 - A 4-day Commemoration of Partition through Films is organized at Jadunath Bhavan (our 2nd, after our Inaugural event there in February), with Goutam Ghosh as our chief advisor & supported by Tata Steel. It includes features & documentaries from both sides of the border; & has Tanvir Mokammel & Akram Khan as our chief guests. The event is covered well in the media & updates about it regularly posted on our Facebook page & website, both of which were launched earlier in February that year.

AUGUST 2020 - A Webinar with KCC is held with 4 contemporary artists who have worked on the Partition of Bengal and displacement. This is in lieu of an Exhibition that we could not have at KCC, owing to the pandemic.

The pandemic, which struck when we were just a year into our existence, also forces us to re-strategize & focus on doing things online. We do several events of our own (including a workshop on digital archiving & an online folk concert with Arko Mukhaerjee and friends) & are invited to others (by The 1947 Partition Archive, Oxford Bookstore & Cosmopolitan Shipwrecks - an interview series in EU). We are also written about in 'Refugee Watch Online', 'The Telegraph', 'The Wire' & 'GetBengal'. And, throughout this period, we are contacted separately by several institutions/organizations & individual scholars (too numerous to list here) with varying interests & agenda - all of them related to the Partition of Bengal & our project.

AUGUST 2021 - A 12-day Art Exhibition, 'The Legacy of Loss: Perspectives on the Partition of Bengal', is inaugurated at KCC on 17th August. A collaboration between KCC & the KPM Trust, and supported by Tata Steel & the Emami Foundation, it is an Exhibition conceptualized & conceived by Rajasri Mukhopadhyay & curated by KCC, where 5 contemporary artists - Paula Sengupta, Vinayak Bhattacharya, Dilip Mitra, Debasish Mukherjee & Amritah Sen - give us their take on the Bengal Partition.

AUGUST 2022 - A VIRTUAL KPM will be launched, to mark the 75th anniversary of Partition. This project, announced on 19 March 2021, is a collaboration between the KPM Trust & AUR (Architecture Urbanism Research), headed by Aurgho Jyoti, a young Indian architect based in the US. A dynamic team - comprising of advisors, specialists and interns - spread over four continents, is now working on it with the utmost passion and dedication, to meet the very challenging deadline.

As I look back on these 5 years, I am proud of the fact that the project has grown organically, at a steady pace – built on the sincere and selfless efforts of people who strongly believe in the cultural importance of the project, and supported by well wishers from all walks of life. KPMP is a citizen initiative & will remain so. As I pen this down, I am deeply grateful to all those who have joined me in this journey - in ways both big and small, direct and indirect - from near and afar. They know who they are.

Yesterday, while returning home, I wished Ma was alive to see this moment. I wished Baba - my biggest cheer leader for this enterprise - was in a state to understand where I have come with it. I wished Didi was with me. I wished I could have had a personal celebration of the kind people do with their families. But it doesn’t matter. My life doesn’t matter. This project is far bigger than our puny, insignificant selves & all its futile desires.