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Internal Violence: The “Police Action” in Hyderabad

  • Sunil Purushotham (a1)

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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Joya Chatterji , The Spoils of Partition: Bengal and India 1947–1967 (Cambridge, 2007)

Ian Copland , “The Further Shores of Partition: Ethnic Cleansing in Rajasthan 1947,” Past & Present 160 (1998): 203–39.

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Robert Gerwarth and John Horne , eds., War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford, 2012).

Arjun Appadurai , “Full Attachment,” Public Culture 10, 2 (1998): 417–50, 447

Paul W. Kahn , Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty (Ann Arbor, 2008).

Taylor C. Sherman , “The Integration of the Princely State of Hyderabad and the Making of the Postcolonial State in India, 1948–1956,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 44, 4: 489516

Gyanendra Pandey , “Can a Muslim Be an Indian?Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, 4 (1999): 608–29.

Srirupa Roy , Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism (Durham, 2007).

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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