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Frontier as Resource: Law, Crime, and Sovereignty on the Margins of Empire

  • Eric Lewis Beverley (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Nineteenth-century European colonialism produced a textured and uneven legal terrain rather than homogeneous imperial units. The fragmentation of sovereignty between empires and subordinated states created frontier zones that unsettled the workings of governance. This article views the developing landscape of power in high colonial South Asia from the loosely controlled frontier zone between Hyderabad, a Princely State ruled by sovereign Muslim dynasts titled Nizams, and the Bombay Presidency, part of Britain's Indian Empire, or Raj. I argue that the heterogeneous legal terrain along the border was a useful resource for administrators and subjects. State officials of both Hyderabad and Bombay justified various projects there; subjects of the two states shopped forums in a legal pluralist environment; and populations on either side of the border whose livelihoods and political agendas ran afoul of social pressures or the economic and cultural imperatives of state projects fled there from adversity. I examine cases of alleged cattle rustlers, bandits, and prostitutes and their engagements with police and courts to explore the political challenges and possibilities the frontier offered different groups. Colonial attempts to extend racialized policing practices across the frontier were frequently met by machinations of marginal people trying to avoid imprisonment or extricate themselves from oppressive social structures. Such figures could use the ambiguity of frontier legal authority to their advantage. The picture that emerges is one of a brute and often-arbitrary colonial power offset by alternative malleable sovereignties that resourceful subjects could play against one another.

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eric.beverley@stonybrook.edu
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1 “Ahmadnagar, Daji Walad Malhari. Offer of a reward of Rs 500 for the capture of the dacoit. Recapture of—by the Ahmadnagar Police,” Bombay Judicial Department, 21 Mar. 1887. Maharashtra State Archives, Mumbai (MSA), Political Dept, Hyderabad, 55/924. British colonial texts used the term dacoit to cast certain South Asian groups as hereditary thieves. Acute colonial concerns and policies for addressing dacoity, and related modes of criminality known as thagi, were central to the early-nineteenth-century colonial project. Whether hereditary criminality was an effect of the social and economic history of colonialism or an imaginative figure of colonial discourse is a matter of continuing scholarly debate (see note 19). On the colonial use of monetary rewards to capture criminals, and their limited effectiveness during the early nineteenth century, see van Wœrkens Martine and Tihanyi Catherine, The Strangled Traveler: Colonial Imaginings and the Thugs of India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 5152; Lloyd Tom, “Acting in the ‘Theatre of Anarchy’: The Anti-Thug Campaign and Elaborations of Colonial Rule in Early Nineteenth-Century India,” Edinburgh Papers in South Asian Studies 19 (2006): 150, here 2–3; idem., Thuggee, Marginality and the State Effect in Colonial India, circa 1770–1840,” Indian Economic & Social History Review 45, 2 (2008): 201–37, here 208. Bhils were a non-settled community, primarily of central and western South Asia, which colonial sociology regarded as dacoits.

2 I use the term “Raj” here as shorthand for both the Bombay Presidency administration and the Government of British India as a whole. This is not to deny the considerable internal fissures between and within the different levels of colonial administration.

3 By “marginal” I refer both to the geographical location and political irregularity of the frontier zone, as a margin between two states, and the social and economic statuses of the populations considered here.

4 This departs from a view of “frontiers as borderless lands” or “empty” terrain. See Adelman Jeremy and Aron Stephen, “From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in between in North American History,” American Historical Review 104, 3 (1999): 814–41, here 816; and Baud Michiel and van Schendel Willem, “Towards a Comparative History of Borderlands,” Journal of World History 8, 2 (1997): 211–42, here 213–14.

5 Turner Frederick Jackson, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” in The Frontier in American History (New York: Holt, 1920 [1894]), 138.

6 On the United States, see ibid.; Cronon William, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: Norton, 1991); and White Richard, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). On Asia, see Perdue Peter, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 2005); and Tagliacozzo Eric, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).

7 On the borderlands concept in historical scholarship, see Adelman and Aron, “Borderlands to Borders”; and Baud and van Schendel, “Towards a Comparative History.” For an application of the concept to South Asian Princely States as “arenas of multi-tiered negotiations among a variety of actors,” see Zutshi Chitralekha, “Rethinking Kashmir's History from a Borderlands Perspective,” History Compass 8, 7 (2010): 594608, here 597.

8 Sivaramakrishnan K., Modern Forests: Statemaking and Environmental Change in Colonial Eastern India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), 38.

9 Zomia refers to the areas of highland Southeast Asia defined by lack of effective integration into states. For an elaboration of the concept, see van Schendel Willem, “Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast Asia,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20 (2002): 647–68. For a detailed argument about zomias as a result of deliberate avoidance of state power, see Scott James C., The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). On the “peculiar and enduring lumpiness of imperial legal space” produced by “the layering of overlapping, semi-sovereign authorities within empires,” see Benton Lauren, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), xiii, 290.

10 Benton Lauren, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 209. Benton's study attempts to describe thoroughgoing global changes in the working of legal regimes, not merely colonial contexts.

11 Ibid., 129, 131.

12 Ibid., 210, 216.

13 Ibid., 209.

14 Dirks Nicholas B., The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom, 2d ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993); Peabody Norbert, Hindu Kingship and Polity in Precolonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

15 Edney Matthew H., Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765–1843 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

16 On Hindu-ruled Samasthan statelets in Hyderabad, see Cohen Benjamin B., Kingship and Colonialism in India's Deccan, 1850–1948 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

17 On comparable developments in Southeast Asia, see Winichakul Thongchai, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation (Honolulu: University of Hawaìi Press, 1994).

18 “Ek mashhūr ḍākū kī giriftārī a‘lā-ḥażrat bandigān-‘ālī kā ażhār khūshnudī [The capture of a famous dacoit and the visible pleasure of the sovereign],” in Muḥammad Aḥmadullāh Khān, Savāniḥ-yi ‘umrī: Navvāb Akbar Jang Akbaruddaullah Akbarulmulk bahādur marḥūm Sī. Es. Ī. Sābiq kotvāl-i Ḥaidarābād Dakan, jismeṅ kotvāl sāḥib marḥūm ke ḥālāt-i zindagī ibtidā se intihā tak daraj ki'e gā’e haiṅ (Āgrah: Matba‘-yi Shamsī, 1907).

19 On the contexts and moral panics produced by pre-1857 anti-Thagi campaigns, see Singha Radhika, “Providential Circumstances: The Thuggee Campaign of the 1830s and Legal Innovation,” Modern Asian Studies 27, 1 (1993): 83146; idem, A Despotism of Law: Crime and Justice in Early Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), ch. 5; Roy Parama, “Discovering India, Imagining Thuggee,” Yale Journal of Criticism 9, 1 (1996): 121–45; Lloyd, “Thuggee”; and Wagner Kim A., “The Deconstructed Strangler: A Reassessment of Thuggee,” Modern Asian Studies 38, 4 (2004): 931–63. On post-1857 developments in Thagi, Dacoity, and Criminal Tribes legislation and enforcement, see Sanjay Nigam, “Disciplining and Policing the ‘Criminals by Birth,’ Part 1: The Making of a Colonial Stereotype—The Criminal Tribes and Castes of North India”; and Part 2: The Development of a Disciplinary System, 1871–1900,” Indian Economic & Social History Review 27, 2 & 3 (1990): 131–64, 257–87; and Radhakrishna Meena, Dishonoured by History: ‘Criminal Tribes’ and British Colonial Policy (Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2001).

20 A classic fictionalized account of a criminal community in nineteenth-century Hyderabad State is Taylor Phillip Meadows, Confessions of a Thug (London: Bentley, 1839). The novel's author resided in Hyderabad under the employ of the Nizam's civil administration for much of his professional life. For a discussion of the key role of Princely States in sheltering bandit gangs during the mid-nineteenth century, see Freitag Sandria, “Sansiahs and the State: The Changing Nature of ‘Crime’ and ‘Justice’ in Nineteenth-Century British India,” in Anderson Michael R. and Guha Sumit, eds., Changing Concepts of Rights and Justice in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).

21 On British Indian T&DD officers in Hyderabad, see Jayaram R., Administrative System under the Nizams (1853–1935) (Bangalore: Ultra, 1998). For the ambivalence of T&DD jurisdiction in late-1830s Hyderabad, see Singha , Despotism of Law, 221–22. Regarding the later nineteenth century, see Freitag, “Sansiahs and the State.” My larger work on Hyderabad State during this period (currently under revision) treats in detail colonial attempts to secure the frontier, within which Thagi and Dakaiti policing was key.

22 Aḥmadullāh Khān, Savāniḥ-yi ‘umrī, ch. 4 (trip to Arabistan to procure horses), ch. 5 (suppression of the 1857 uprising), chs. 6–8 (Abyssinia campaign), chs. 15, 16, 21 (pacifying urban and rural gangs and local toughs), and ch. 22 (organizing public meetings).

23 MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad 55/633, 1887.

24 Secretary, Government of India to Chief Secretary, Government of Bombay, 22 Mar. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad 55/633, 1887.

25 “Extradition. Delay in the extradition of certain persons accused of having committed theft in Sholapur,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. III, 59/141, 1888.

26 For the Raichore jailbreak, see Andhra Pradesh State Archives, Hyderabad (APSA), 71/31/1, 1886. Citations for other cases are below.

27 “Bali wald Gangu Mahar (theft),” Judicial, Political, and General Secretary (M. Aziz Mirza) to Private Secretary, 17 Oct. 1900, APSA, 71/32/34, 1901.

28 His Highness’ Minister (Private Secretary) to Mr. Jardine (Resident's Office), 18 Oct. 1900, APSA, 71/32/34, 1901.

29 District Magistrate, Sholapur to Assistant Resident, Secunderabad, 15 Nov. 1900, APSA, 71/32/34, 1901.

30 Judicial Secretary M. Aziz Mirza to the Private Secretary of the Minister, 1 Jan. 1901, APSA, 71/32/34, 1901.

31 “Tukaram Jiwaji Kunbi (Theft of Bullocks),” APSA, 71/32/36, 1901.

32 District Magistrate, Khandesh to First Assistant Resident, 24 Nov. 1900; Resident W. Haig to Vikarul Umara Bahadur, 18 Apr. 1901, both in APSA, 71/32/36, 1901.

33 “Complaint of instances having occurred in which subjects of His Highness have been arrested and have been suffered to remain for indefinite periods in prison,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1. On the unnamed Banjara women, see “Purport of Roobakaree to the Talookdar NW Division at the 14th Ramzan, 1286 H,” 18 Dec. 1869, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1.

34 First Assistant Resident to Chief Secretary, Government of Bombay, 4 Feb. 1870, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1.

35 “Purport of Roobakaree to the Talookdar NW Division at the 14th Ramzan 1286 H,” 18 Dec. 1869, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1.

36 Translation of letter from His Highness the Nizam's Minister to Resident, 17 Feb. 1870, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1. The last item in this file, an internal communication between Bombay officials, suggested the case be subjected to inquiry, but it is unclear whether this took place. Political Department to Resident, 2 Mar. 1870, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 26/277, 1870–1.

37 Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures, 245, 251, and 240.

38 “Fugitive Offenders Act 1881, Application to Indian States,” Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, London, L/P&S/13/523, 1924–1937.

39 “Memorandum explanatory of Agendum No. 6. Extension of the provisions for the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, to Indian States and Administered Areas,” 1923, Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, London, L/P&S/13/523, 1924–1937, my emphasis.

40 This scenario also worked in reverse. Britain assumed territorial control in the subcontinent based on agreements with established sovereigns, such as the Mughals. Colonial military cantonments in Hyderabad and elsewhere were granted on temporary leases, and remained under princely sovereignty until the end of the empire.

41 Resident Trevor Chichele-Plowden, esq., CSI to Secretary of Government of India, Foreign Department. Hyderabad Residency, 16 Nov. 1897, “Working of the Rules in the Manual of the Thagi and Dakaiti Dept and Trial of Cases Prosecuted by the Dept in Hyderabad,” Letters from India 1898, 153–423, Oriental and India Office Collection, L/P&S/7/381, my emphasis.

42 Benton accounts for “legal anomalies” in empires as part of a colonialist geographical logic of enclaves and corridors within a larger sovereign imperial terrain. Within her framework, the likes of Princely States and inaccessible mountainous regions under colonial rule are analogous. Benton, Search for Sovereignty, ch. 5.

43 Alexandrowicz C. H., An Introduction to the History of the Law of Nations in the East Indies (16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries) (Oxford: Clarendon, 1967), 1. On postcolonial implications of this alternative legal history, see his article, New and Original States: The Issue of Reversion to Sovereignty,” International Affairs 45, 3 (1969): 465–80.

44 Alexandrowicz, Introduction to the History, 2.

45 On the ongoing instability of the concept of sovereignty in emerging regimes of modern international law, see Koskenniemi Martti, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law, 1870–1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

46 On the official legal recognition, and in some cases regulation and sponsorship, of some varieties of sex work in the nineteenth-century Hyderabad State, see Karen Leonard, “Courtesans of Hyderabad and Beyond: Claiming Significance,” MS, University of California, Irvine, 2012.

47 J. F. Fleet, District Magistrate to First Assistant, Resident of Hyderabad, 16 June 1886, “Complaint by the District Magistrate of Sholapur of delay in surrendering accused persons on the part of His Highness the Nizam's Govt,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad 55/1676, 1887.

48 Chandra Sudhir, Enslaved Women: Colonialism, Law and Women's Rights (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), 1541.

49 Nair Janaki, Women and Law in Colonial India: A Social History (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1996), 7375; Kumar Radha, The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women's Rights and Feminism in India, 1800–1990 (New Delhi: Zubaan, 1993), 2427.

50 On collusion between the colonial state and established patriarchies, see Chowdhry Prem, “Private Lives, State Intervention: Cases of Runaway Marriage in Rural North India,” Modern Asian Studies 38, 1 (2004): 5584.

51 Abstract of Evidence, enclosure in Fleet to Assistant to Resident, 2 July 1886, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 55/1676, 1887.

52 A. H. Martindale, First Assistant Resident to District Magistrate, Sholapur, 11 Feb. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 55/1676, 1887.

53 Fleet to First Assistant to Resident, 28 Mar. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 55/1676, 1887.

54 Note by M. S. Wadia, 16 Oct. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 55/1676, 1887.

55 Abstract of Evidence, enclosure in Fleet to Assistant to Resident, 2 July 1886, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, 55/1676, 1887.

56 On the demeaning of the courtesan figure in colonial law and Urdu literary imagination, see Sarah Waheed, “Literary Ethics, Radical Politics: Muslim Society in the Era of South Asian Nationalism,” PhD diss., Tufts University, 2010, ch. 2.

57 On gender relations in Maratha country, see O'Hanlon Rosalind, A Comparison between Women and Men: Tarabai Shinde and the Critique of Gender Relations in Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000).

58 Oldenburg Veena Talwar, “Lifestyle as Resistance: The Case of the Courtesans of Lucknow, India,” Feminist Studies 16, 2 (1990): 259–87, original emphasis. Oldenburg's data comes primarily from fieldwork carried out in the 1970s and 1980s, but encompasses both the colonial and postcolonial periods.

59 Ashwini Tambe suggested to me that the name Yellamma would imply a connection with the devadāsī institution (2009 personal communication). For a consideration of the empowerment of women dedicated to the goddess Yellamma within an alternative sexual order, see Ramberg Lucinda, “Magical Hair as Dirt: Ecstatic Bodies and Postcolonial Reform in South India,” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 33 (2009): 501–22. Ramberg notes in particular the prominence of the institution in the present states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad State comprised adjacent portions of each of these regions.

60 On anti-devadāsī developments, see Jordan Kay, “Devadasi Reform: Driving the Priestess of the Prostitutes out of Hindu Temples?” in Baird R. D., ed., Religion and Law in Independent India (Delhi: Manohar, 1993); Kannabiran Kalpana, “Judiciary, Social Reform and Debate on ‘Religious Prostitution’ in Colonial India,” Economic and Political Weekly 30, 43 (1995): WS59–69; Nair Janaki, “The Devadasi, Dharma and the State,” Economic and Political Weekly 29, 50 (1994): 3157–67; idem., ‘Imperial Reason,’ National Honour and New Patriarchal Compacts in Early Twentieth-Century India,” History Workshop Journal 66 (2008): 208–26; Parker Kunal M., “‘A Corporation of Superior Prostitutes’: Anglo-Indian Legal Conceptions of Temple Dancing Girls, 1800–1914,” Modern Asian Studies 32, 3 (1998): 559633; Srinivasan Amrit, “Reform and Revival: The Devadasi and Her Dance,” Economic and Political Weekly 20, 44 (1985): 1869–76; Raj M. Sundara, Prostitution in Madras: A Historical Perspective (Konark: Delhi, 1993), ch. 6; Vijaisri Priyadarshini, “Sacred Prostitution and Reform in Colonial South India,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (n.s.) 28, 3 (2005): 387411.

61 Parker, “Corporation of Superior Prostitutes,” 589, 607.

62 Jordan, “Devadasi Reform”; Nair, “The Devadasi”; Parker “Corporation of Superior Prostitutes”; Sundara Raj also notes, of early-nineteenth-century Madras, that “education of females was only known among devadasis” (Prostitution in Madras, 117).

63 Kannabiran, “Judiciary,” WS59.

64 On post-1861 legal references to “enticement” or “carrying away” of girls or women into prostitution, see Tambe Ashwini, Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 28. On the language of “seduction” in 1819 statutes, see Singha, Despotism of Law, 146–47.

65 Jordan, “Devadasi Reform,” 328.

66 Parker notes that many were accused of taking minors outside of colonial territory for initiation (“Corporation of Superior Prostitutes,” 627). On flight to “native states” and European territories from Madras Presidency, see Sundara Raj, Prostitution in Madras, 123.

67 On the anti-devadāsī movement in Hyderabad, see Vijaisri, “Sacred Prostitution,” 406–8.

68 Mani Lata, “Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India,” in Sangari K. and Vaid S., eds., Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989).

69 Kannabiran, “Judiciary”; Nair, Women and Law; Parker, “Corporation of Superior Prostitutes.” On colonial law's strengthening of caste Hindu property claims in early-twentieth-century Bombay Presidency, see Rao Anupama, The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), ch. 2.

70 Nair, “The Devadasi,” 3165.

71 Parker, “Corporation of Superior Prostitutes,” 625.

72 Work on the Partition of British India has suggested that the violence and rupture created by the abduction of women has been overemphasized, and that the state's acts to “return” women to their previous communities fortified patriarchal structures. Butalia Urvashi, The other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India (Delhi: Penguin, 1998); Das Veena, Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996).

73 Ramberg describes “Yellamma women,” or devadāsīs, as being “implicated in a different sexual order” (“Magical Hair,” 518), and Oldenburg suggests that courtesans taught community members a “new meaning of being an aurat [woman]” (“Lifestyle as Resistance,” 271).

74 Hyderabad Resident Trevor Chichele-Plowden to Secretary of Government of India, Foreign Department, 16 Nov. 1897, “Working of the rules in the Manual of the Thagi and Dakaiti Dept and trial of cases prosecuted by the Dept in Hyderabad,” Letters from India 1898, 153–423, Oriental and India Office Collection, L/P&S/7/381.

75 “Bhika Jamal and Sultan Dewa, prisoners in the Central Jail Yerrowda, Praying for the remission of the sentence passed upon them on a charge of dacoity,” 21 Apr. 1888, Oriental Translation Department “translation of the vernacular petition” submitted by appellants 6 Apr. 1888 to Governor-General of India in Council, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. I, 57/214, 1888. The term gurunda (informant, or approver) is likely a variant of the Persian term goinda or goyanda (literally, “one who talks”) commonly used in the subcontinent. On the Central Indian use of goranda for goyanda, see Russell Robert V. and Lal Rai Bahadur Hira, The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, vol. I (London: Macmillan, 1916), 365. The social roles of these convicts-turned-informers in Hyderabad will be considered in detail presently. On goindas in the early nineteenth century, see Lloyd, “Thuggee,” 208; and Singha, “Providential Circumstances,” 110.

76 Assistant Secretary, Government of India to Resident, Hyderabad, 14 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. I, 57/214, 1888.

77 “Petition to the address of the Government of India. From Sekh Gutki walad Sekh Mahabub and two others convicts in the Central Jail at Yerrowda, praying for the remission of the sentence passed upon them by the Sessions Court at—on a charge of dacoity,” 7 Apr. 1888, from Oriental Translation Department, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. I, 57/1068, 1888.

78 A roughly contemporaneous colonial text glosses Multanis as Muslim Banjaras (also known as Kanjars) as “professional dacoits, highway robbers, and cattle-lifters, but not burglars” who ranged from Rajputana and Gujarat to the northern reaches of Hyderabad State. The text notes two distinct groups of Multanis: the just-noted itinerant criminal-tribe, and a settled non-criminal group that dealt in timber and firewood. The people considered here seem to combine elements of both groups. Gunthorpe E. J., Notes on Criminal Tribes Residing in or Frequenting the Bombay Presidency, Berar and the Central Provinces (Bombay: Times of India, 1882), ch. 7.

79 On the “approver” figure in colonial law, see Amin Shahid, “Approver's Testimony, Judicial Discourse: The Case of Chauri Chaura,” in Guha Ranajit, ed., Subaltern Studies V (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987).

80 “Hyderabad. Petitions from Kamia walad Tuljia, Bijou Chandy walad Arjoon Bania Batia and Bhagia walad Bapu, convicts in the Yerrowda Central Jail praying for the remission of the sentences passed on them by Criminal Courts in—on charges of dacoity,” Oriental Translator's Department, 26 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1494, 1888.

81 “Translation of a petition from Kamiya valad Tuliya [of] Bandhallir, Taluka Udgir, zilla Bedar in His Highness the Nizam's territory, to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India-in-Council,” dated 30 Apr. 1888, received for translation 19 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1494, 1888.

82 “Translation of a petition from Ravya valad Balya Mang, inhabitant of Dongargaon, Taluka Halgaon, Zilla Nanded, in His Highness the Nizam's territory, to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India-in-Council,” dated 30 Apr. 1888, received for translation 19 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1494, 1888.

83 Mangs are described as an unclean and superstitious caste with a tendency towards crime,” in ul Hassan Syed Siraj, Castes and Tribes of the Nizam's Dominions, vol. 2. (Gurgaon: Vintage Books, 1990 [1920]), 462. The Kaikadis are glossed as a “wandering tribe” of “notorious highway robbers,” in Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 7 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1908), 149.

84 “Translation of a petition from Ravya valad Balya Mang, inhabitant of Dongargaon, Taluka Halgaon, Zilla Nanded, in His Highness the Nizam's territory, to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India-in-Council,” dated 30 Apr. 1888, received for translation 19 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1494, 1888.

85 “Translation of a petition from Chandu valad Arjuna Kaikadi at present a convict at the Yerrowda Central Jail, to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India-in-Council,” dated 30 Apr. 1888, received for translation 19 June 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1494, 1888.

86 On similar trends in British India, see Amin, “Approver's Testimony”; Nigam, “Disciplining and Policing.”

87 “Translation of a petition from Pilu valad Raghu Mhar, inhabitant of Hunasval, Taluka Dubalgandi, zilla Hyderabad (Deccan) and at present a convict in the Central Jail at Yerrowda, to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India-in-Council,” dated 30 Aug. 1888, Oriental Translations Department, 3 Oct. 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1749, 1888.

88 For petitions from Koli agriculturalists accused by Sidu Dhangar, gurunda, see “Petitions from Mansing walad Malhari Koli and Marpali, son of Saheboo, convicts in the C. J. at Yerrowda, praying for the remission of the sentences passed upon them by the Sessions Court at Hyderabad on a charge of dacoity,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 58/1559, 1888.

89 Eric Hobsbawm, Bandits (n.p.: Delacorte, 1969), 13–14.

90 For a critique of the concept of “pre-political” in Hobsbawm, see Guha RanajitElementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983).

91 Blok Anton, “The Peasant and the Brigand: Social Banditry Reconsidered,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 14, 4 (1972): 495503. See also Hobsbawm's response, “Social Bandits: Reply,” in the same issue, 503–5.

92 Brown NathanBrigands and State Building: The Invention of Banditry in Modern Egypt,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 32, 2 (1990): 259–60. The parallel with Hyderabad is striking, where a similar panic over dacoity authorized British cross-border policing in the Princely State.

93 Ibid., 279, 280.

94 On social banditry in modern South Asia, see Kasturi Malavika, Embattled Identities: Rajput Lineages and the Colonial State in Nineteenth-Century North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), ch. 6; Mayaram Shail, “Kings versus Bandits: Anti-Colonialism in a Bandit Narrative,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 13, 3 (2003): 315–38; Wagner Kim A., “Thuggee and Social Banditry Reconsidered,” Historical Journal 50, 2 (2007): 353–76.

95 Gordon StewartMarathas, Marauders and State-Formation in Eighteenth-Century India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), ch. 1.

96 Singha, “Providential Circumstances”; and Despotism of Law, ch. 5.

97 “The familiar fluidity of legal orders in the early modern world provided institutional continuity that itself gave legal politics a certain similarity across widely disparate legal systems. The territories for which this condition of jurisdictional fluidity was true are so vast and diverse that they can be described as encompassing a global legal regime” (Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures, 261).

98 Alexandrowicz, Introduction to the History.

99 Benton, in Search for Sovereignty, elaborates the key role of geography in producing anomalous legal spaces within empire. For her consideration of South Asian Princely States within this framework, see 236–64.

100 R. H. Vincent (DSOP [District Superintendent of Police], Ahmednagar) to A. T. Crawford (Commissioner, CD, Poona), 4 Apr. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad 55/924, my emphasis.

101 Vincent to Crawford, 4 Apr. 1887, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad 55/924.

102 J. G. Moore, Officiating Commissioner to the Secretary of Government, Poona, 15 Jan. 1889, “Hyderabad. Dacoit Daji walad Malhari Bhil trial and punishment by the authorities of His Highness the Nizam's Government of,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889.

103 E. A. Bulkey, Acting DSOP, Ahmednagar to Waddington, 8 Nov. 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889.

104 Docket entry for 26 Jan. 1889, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889.

105 Docket entry for 28 Jan. 1889, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889. See also Vincent's gloss: “Daji Bhil has, I know, some very good friends among the Patils and Sowkars of this District and I strongly suspect that some of my own men are not over anxious either to catch him,” 28 Sept. 1888,” MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889.

106 See Vincent's description of Daji and his gang, in DSOP, Ahmednagar to G. Waddington, District Magistrate, Ahmednagar. 28 Sept. 1888, MSA, Political Department, Hyderabad, vol. II, 64/541, 1889.

107 Rogers John D., Crime, Justice and Society in Colonial Sri Lanka (London: Curzon, 1987).

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
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