Through an examination of the September 1948 event known as the “Police Action,” this article argues that “internal violence” was an important engine of state formation in India in the period following independence in 1947. The mid-century ruptures in the subcontinent were neither incidental to nor undermining of the nascent Indian nation-state project—they were constitutive events through which a new state and regime of sovereignty emerged. A dispersal and mobilization of violence in and around the princely state of Hyderabad culminated in an event of violence directed primarily at Hyderabad's Muslims during and just after the Police Action. This violent mediation of the incorporation of India's Muslims into the postcolonial order left significant legacies in subsequent decades. These events in the heart of peninsular India, and the processes behind them, have remained largely invisible or obscured in the historical record. Here I substantially revise the historiography of what happened in Hyderabad, and draw on my findings to offer an alternative perspective on decolonization in India.
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