India’s showpiece township, Rajarhat New Town was developed in the twilight years of communist rule in West Bengal. Billed by most as the face of a resurgent Bengal, the township is actually a façade for injustices unknown to many; the place seems to resonate with the cries of the disadvantaged who have been displaced to make way for the rich and the mighty. What was once fertile, multi-crop farmland is now a naked city, stripped of the green and replaced with concrete jungles which would shelter the privileged one day; hip shopping-malls, glitzy InfoTech parks and swanky condominiums in the making.
Most landowners in the area used to be small and marginal farmers. Desperation due to displacement has driven many of them to become roadside hawkers, peddling items of daily needs. Akandeshwari Biponno Krishoker Jibon Jibikar Hawker Market* is one such market which (as the name suggests) keeps reminding us about the tales of land grab. The sharecroppers and farm laborers were not even considered for compensation. Their livelihood snatched, some of them have found work as security guards in the construction sites in the township or working as helpers in the roadside garages which service the trucks coming in with construction materials to the sites.
This photo-essay is a tribute to all the unsung heroes, who have contributed to the making of a township many Calcuttans are proud of.
- * Translation: Akandeshwari Helpless Farmers’ Livelihood Sustaining Hawker Market
Soham Gupta is a documentary photographer based in Calcutta, India. His works have been exhibited in Calcutta, at the 2011 Format Festival Derby and in Paris. Currently, he is pursuing a Diploma in Photojournalism from Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Connecting with the people he photographs is of utmost importance to him; celebration of life is his end objective. He works primarily in black-and-white and is available on assignments worldwide.