‘Where the Birds Never Sing’ by Soumya Sankar Bose

Ongoing Photography series since 2017

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Similar were the thoughts when the Bangladeshi refugees in Marichjhapi, West Bengal were shot dead and forced by the state Govt. to vacate their newly built settlements in 1979. And later the Govt. tried its best to erase this dark chapter from every written evidence possible. Soumya Sankar Bose sets off his journey from this very point of documenting personal memories and remnants of State-sponsored violence and recreating an atlas of the landscape as well as the emotions attached to it.

Soumya Sankar’s ongoing photography project ‘Where the Birds never Sing‘ marks the 40th year of the Marichjhapi Massacre. The portraits of the survivors, the gloomy landscape, and the old photographs from the personal archive, all mourn the loss, the trauma, the deaths. Some of his clicks remind of characters and scenes from Amitav Ghosh’s captivating fiction ‘The Hungry Tide’ (2004).


The Kolkata-based Magnum Photographer received his formal training in photography from Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Bangladesh. He participated in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass early this year. His photography projects received many recognitions including the India Foundation for the Arts’ Photo Book grant (2019), Goethe-Insitut / Max Mueller Bhavan & Raqs Media Collective’s Five Million Incidents (2019), and Magnum Foundation & Henry Luce Foundation’s Migration & Religion grant (2018) among others. In 2018, he was one of the 30 achievers in Forbes 30 Under 30 Special Mention. His works have been extensively published in The Newyork Times, Platform, British Journal of Photography, bbc Online, Condé Nast, scroll_in and The Caravan Magazine to name a few.

December 10 is observed as Human Rights Day by the UN. And there is no better way to mark this day other than remembering the genocide and human rights violation in Marichjhapi.

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