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Looks that Lost for Killings

Partha Sengupta (India)

Border (noun) is the line that divides two countries or areas; the land near this line

Identity (noun) who or what somebody/something is

X-ray (verb) to photograph and examine bones and organs inside the body

The x-ray plates used in the storytelling unfold the identity crisis at the international border in West Bengal of India that separates Bangladesh. The plates are a testament of torture and atrocities which are self-explanatory without the need of further statements, which the people at the border area encounter every day by the Indian border security force known as BSF, a para military body under the Ministry of Home Affairs. People with similar looks and a common language confound the Indian security guards to Bangladeshis. It is hard to distinguish Bengali or Bangali Indians from Bangladeshi people both re inherently are Bengali/Bangali with the same spoken language, which frustrates Indian security forces to think that the locals are intruders. The mistaken identity causes pain and suffering to the border people. It is difficult to determine a person’s identity by seeing an X-ray plate that confuses nationality.

A nation-state’s limits cease at a border with the emergence of another state. It is a stretch of land where countries confront each other. The place is unique where a land demarcated by an imaginary line and shared by states has a name – born of a national and cultural identity. Then the people in the land fall into the categorical identity for which they known in documents. It is a meeting place where local people of different nation-states embrace mobility, sometimes without legal validity, and shared their culture. Here, linguistic identity becomes paramount important to dissolve nation-state identity.

In the storytelling, I want the viewers to identify through the x-ray plate and medical documents of a person who belongs to which country or from what nationality the person belongs to – India or Bangladesh. The images represent people who have souls, with flesh and blood, have family or a wife of a husband or a mother and so on, but they are aliens to the Indian security forces. Actually, they are local people in the Indian territory but to them all are illegal immigrants or intruders harmful for national security. For decades, the border region of both the sides in Bengal has witnessed the atrocities of Indian border guards whose firepower reigns over the people of that area. The Indian security forces are having different social backgrounds from different parts of India whose cultural identity differs from the local history of Bengal, so to them, every intruder on their territory is a foreigner can destabilize the country’s security. Because of this, hundreds of innocent people die on the Bengal border who are Indians, whereas the security forces enjoy impunity.


My interest in humanity drew on activism to pursue photography and after leaving my corporate job in 2012. Then I joined as a photographer in a small newspaper in Calcutta and worked for a few years. For knowledge enhancement, I’ve attended various workshops on storytelling. My upbringing was in a refugee colony as my parents migrated from East Pakistan and settled in Calcutta. The social and familial experience interested me in stories about refugees, migration and settlement issues – I have been deeply aware through social and political programs. I explore untold stories where human rights deeply violated in India.