Jangam (Movement) is the poignant tale of ordinary people who embarked on a great, unknown journey in the midst of WWII but whose bids for survival were thwarted as they battled Nature. Hardly any account of this massive calamity has been registered in India’s literature, says Debendranath Acharya in the late 1970s, in the preface to his Sahitya Akademi award-winning Assamese novel. During this migration an estimated 450,000-500,000 Burmese Indians walked to north-east India, fleeing from the Japanese advance and also from escalating ethnic violence in the Burmese theatre of war. ‘Corpses lay everywhere, and there were no jackals and vultures to pick them clean… All other forms of animal life seem to have abjured this pathway, save for scores of beautiful butterflies that cover the bodies in a sea of colour’, say contemporary foreign accounts of this exodus. Jangam is the only sustained fictional treatment of this long march.
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