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Gender, Family, and the Policing of the ‘Criminal Tribes’ in Nineteenth-Century North India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2020

JESSICA HINCHY*
Affiliation:
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Email: jhinchy@ntu.edu.sg

Abstract

In the South Asian setting, the fields of gender history and family history are still predominantly concerned with relatively elite social groups. Few studies have examined issues of gender and the family in the history of Dalit, low-caste, and socially marginalized communities, especially those that were labelled ‘criminal tribes’ from the mid-nineteenth century on. This article explores the ways in which gender patterned criminalized communities’ experiences of everyday colonial governance under Part I of the 1871 Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) in the first two decades that it was enforced in northern India. In this early period, the colonial government did not closely regulate marriage practices, domestic arrangements, or the gendered organization of labour within communities categorized as ‘criminal tribes’. Nevertheless, notions of sexuality and gender underlay colonial knowledge of the ‘criminal tribes’, which emerged in dialogue with middle-class Indian gender and caste politics. Moreover, the family unit was the central target of the CTA surveillance and policing regime, which aimed to produce ‘industrious’ families. Officially endorsed forms of labour had complex implications for criminalized communities in the context of North Indian gender norms and strategies of social mobility. Gender power dynamics also shaped criminalized peoples’ interpersonal, embodied interactions with British and Indian colonial officials on an everyday basis. Meanwhile, different forms of leverage and evasion were open to men and women to cope with their criminalization and so the colonial state was experienced in highly gendered ways.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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99 Patiala Akhbar, 19 October 1874, Selections, p. 510.

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101 For example, Oudh Akhbar, 1 March 1872, Selections, pp. 135–6; Urdu Akhbar, 16 December 1872, Selections, p. 127; Marwar Gazette, 15 January 1872, Selections, pp. 40–1.

102 Lauh-i-Mahfuz, 28 June 1872, Selections, p. 342.

103 On middle-class gender norms in the NWP: Joshi, Fractured modernity, pp. 59–94.

104 C. Robertson to Secretary, Government of India (GI), 23 November 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1138/A/Dec/5.

105 J. R. Reid to IGP, NWP&O, 9 August 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/18.

106 J. Smith to Commissioner, Agra, 2 April 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/8.

107 Hobart, annual report, 1 July 1875, in BL/IOR/P/839/A/Jul/2; P. C. Dalmahoy, annual report, 21 September 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1138/A/Dec/2.

108 C. A. Elliott to H. L. Dampier, 26 September 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/12/1872/263.

109 Ibid.

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112 C. A. Elliott to H. L. Dampier, 1 October 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/03/1873/153-154.

113 ‘Rules’, in NAI/HD/JB/01/1874/119-21.

114 S. Barrow, annual report, 26 May 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/5; R. T. Hobart, annual report, 21 September 1877, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Nov/12.

115 ‘Rules’, in NAI/HD/JB/01/1874/119-21.

116 Act No. XXVII, in BL/IOR/V/8/42.

117 ‘Rules’, in NAI/HD/JB/01/1874/119-21.

118 J. Smith, statement of Aheriyas and Haburas for 1880–1, 23 April 1881, in BL/IOR/P/1614/A/Aug/12.

119 For example, J. Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 12 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/14.

120 Elliott to Dampier, 26 September 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/12/1872/263. On the use of laws as ‘tactics’ in the management of population: Foucault, Michel, ‘Governmentality’, in The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality, with two lectures and an interview by Michel Foucault, (eds) Burchell, Graham, Gordon, Colin and Miller, Peter (Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), pp. 87104Google Scholar.

121 B. W. Colvin to IGP, NWP, 17 July 1876, in BL/IOR/P/839/A/Jul/5.

122 Dalmahoy, annual report, 21 September 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1138/A/Dec/2.

123 Smith, annual report, 9 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2208/A/Jan/26.

124 Palmer, ‘Note’, 28 March 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/07/1872/97.

125 H. B. Webster to Secretary, NWP&O, 20 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Jan/25; Inden, Ronald, Imagining India (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), pp. 133, 139–40Google Scholar.

126 Gilmartin, ‘Migration and modernity’, pp. 11–3.

127 Sen, ‘Rationing sex’, p. 31.

128 J. Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 24 April 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2208/A/Sep/19.

129 O. L. Smith, annual report, 13 June 1881, in BL/IOR/P/1614/A/Aug/8.

130 J. W. Quinton to IGP, NWP&O, 4 May 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/11.

131 Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 12 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/14.

132 Hobart, annual report, 1 July 1875, in BL/IOR/P/839/A/Jul/2. See also J. Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 21 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/May/45.

133 C. Robertson to IGP, NWP&O, 30 April 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/May/47.

134 J. W. Quinton to IGP, NWP&O, 27 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/13.

135 Italics added. Webster to Secretary, NWP&O, 20 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Jan/25.

136 W. C. Bennet to IGP, NWP&O, 19 October 1891, in BL/IOR/P/8389/A/Oct/27; J. Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 16 April 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/35; J. J. McLean to Commissioner, Jhansi, 17 October 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jan/11.

137 Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 16 April 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/35.

138 G. E. Ward to Secretary, NWP&O, 17 December 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jan/10.

139 Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 16 April 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/35.

140 See also H. B. Webster to Secretary, NWP&O, 15 June 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/23.

141 Palmer, ‘Note’, 28 March 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/07/1872/97.

142 Only adult labour was noted in J. W. Williams, ‘B—Statement showing the number of Baurias’, 13 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/13.

143 W. C. Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11.

144 Williams, ‘B—Statement’, 13 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/13.

145 Nelson, Claudia, Family ties in Victorian England (London: Praeger, 2007), Chapter 1Google Scholar; Davidoff, Leonore and Hall, Catherine, Family fortunes: men and women of the English middle class, 1780–1850 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1987)Google Scholar; Tosh, John, Manliness and masculinities in nineteenth-century Britain: essays on gender, family, and empire (Harlow, UK: Pearson Longman, 2005), pp. 2750Google Scholar; Steinbach, Susie, ‘Can we still use “separate spheres”? British history 25 years after Family fortunes’, History Compass 10, no. 11, 2012, pp. 826–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

146 Anderson, ‘Gender, subalternity and silence’, pp. 145–66; Anderson, Legible bodies, pp. 36–9; ‘Regulations’, in Straits Settlements Records (SSR), H14, 14/05/1825; 1857–58 Straits Settlements administration report in Colonial Office (CO)/275/1; McNair, John Frederick Adolphus, Prisoners their own warders (London: Archibald Constable and Company, 1899), p. 90Google Scholar.

147 Straits Settlements proceedings for the fourth quarter of 1855, in National Archives of Singapore (NAS)/NAB/1671/4/1855; Pieris, Anoma, Hidden hands and divided landscapes: a penal history of Singapore's plural society (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009), pp. 142–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Appendix to the report of the Committee on Prison-Discipline (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1838), Appendix 4, p. 257Google Scholar.

148 Sen, ‘Rationing sex’, pp. 33–4; Sen, Disciplining punishment, p. 105.

149 Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11; A. Sells, ‘A—Statement showing the Bauria families who have cultivated continuously’, 27 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/12; Williams, ‘B—Statement’, 13 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/13.

150 Sen, Women and labour, pp. 63–5, 74–83.

151 I am not suggesting that masculinity was a cause of colonial agrarianization programmes.

152 Foucault, ‘Governmentality’.

153 Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DGIP), NWP, quoted in ‘Report of … Operations’, in NAI/HD/JB/10/12/1870/32.

154 This idea drew on the earlier establishment of the Khandesh Bhil Corps in the 1820s: Gordon, ‘Bhils’, pp. 136–8.

155 J. Sladen to F. M. Lind, 23 August 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/30.

156 Singh, Hari, Report on the administration of the criminal tribes in the Punjab for the year ending December 1920 (Lahore: Superintendent, Government Printing, Punjab, 1921), pp. 16–7Google Scholar.

157 On colonial ideas about peasants and pastoralists: Bhattacharya, Neeladri, ‘Pastoralists in a colonial world’, in Nature, culture, imperialism: essays on the environmental history of South Asia, (eds) Arnold, David and Guha, Ramachandra (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 4985Google Scholar.

158 W. C. Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11.

159 Smith to Commissioner, Agra, 2 April 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/8; O. L. Smith, annual report, 30 June 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Sep/12; J. W. Sharpe to Magistrate, Etah, 16 April 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Sep/16; O. L. Smith, annual report, 9 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2208/A/Jan/26.

160 R. T. Hobart, annual report, 17 July 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/21.

161 Italics added. F. M. Lind to IGP, NWP, 28 August 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/24.

162 Tosh, Manliness and masculinities, pp. 86–98.

163 Inden, Imagining India, pp. 137–48.

164 Italics added. O. L. Smith, annual report, 26 May 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/25.

165 Pandian, Crooked stalks, pp. 19–22, 34–48, 68–75, 84–5.

166 Kasturi, Malavika, Embattled identities: Rajput lineages and the colonial state in nineteenth-century North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 25Google Scholar.

167 This North–South contrast is based on the conflicting conclusions of Pandian, Kasturi, and Pinch. Pinch, William R., Peasants and monks in British India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), p. 112Google Scholar.

168 This was partly due to the Rent Act of 1859, which allowed tenants with limited occupancy rights who could prove 12 years of continuous cultivation to gain ‘prescriptive rights of occupancy’. Kasturi, Embattled identities, pp. 53–62.

169 Ibid.

170 Pinch, Peasants and monks, pp. 85–6.

171 Rawat, Reconsidering Untouchability, pp. 80–4.

172 Pinch, Peasants and monks, pp. 107–11; Rawat, Reconsidering Untouchability, pp. 162–3.

173 H. M. Stanley Clarke, annual report, 22 July 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/2.

174 W. Holmes to Secretary, NWP&O, 2 October 1893, in BL/IOR/P/4514/A/Jan/13; R. H. Brereton to Secretary, NWP&O, 20 June 1900, in BL/IOR/P/5832/A/Aug/18.

175 M. Tweedie to IGP, NWP&O, 10 June 1887, in BL/IOR/P/2909/A/Aug/24; A. Ollivant to Secretary, NWP&O, 23 May 1890, in BL/IOR/P/3606/A/Aug/30.

176 W. C. Bennet to IGP, NWP&O, 19 October 1891, in BL/IOR/P/8389/A/Oct/27.

177 Italics in original. E. Tyrwhitt to Secretary, NWP&O, 27 September 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1138/A/Dec/1.

178 C. Robertson to Secretary, GI, 10 April 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/18.

179 C. Robertson to Secretary, GI, 14 October 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/23.

180 Stoler, Ann Laura, ‘Epistemic politics: ontologies of colonial common sense’, The Philosophical Forum 39, no. 3, 2008, pp. 349–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

181 On the CTA's bodily dimensions: Tolen, ‘Colonizing and transforming’.

182 Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11.

183 Mehndi Hassan Khan, statement given to J. Sladen, 3 August 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/27.

184 O. L. Smith, annual report, 25 May 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/8.

185 R. T. Hobart to Secretary, NWP&O, 28 June 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/7.

186 Smith, annual report, 25 May 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/8.

187 J. Smith to Commissioner, Agra, 2 April 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/8; Smith, annual report, 30 June 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Sep/12; Sharpe to Magistrate, Etah, 16 April 1884, in BL/IOR/P/2008/A/Sep/16; Smith, annual report, 9 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2208/A/Jan/26.

188 Smith to Commissioner, Agra, 2 April 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/8. See also J. C. Robertson to IGP, NWP&O, 9 April 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/7.

189 Webster to Secretary, NWP&O, 15 June 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/23.

190 Smith, annual report, 25 May 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/8.

191 A bigha was generally five-eighths of an acre.

192 Hobart to Secretary, NWP&O, 28 June 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/7.

193 Stanley Clarke, annual report, 22 July 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/2.

194 Barrow, annual report, 26 May 1880, in BL/IOR/P/1467/A/Aug/5.

195 W. Kaye to IGP, NWP&O, 24 April 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/14.

196 Robertson to Secretary, GI, 10 April 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/18.

197 Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11.

198 Singha, Radhika, A despotism of law: crime and justice in early colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 179–93Google Scholar; Wagner, Kim A., Thuggee: banditry and the British in early nineteenth-century India (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 100–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

199 Pandian, Crooked stalks, p. 122.

200 J. D. Young to Magistrate, Etah, 24 April 1885, in BL/IOR/P/2460/A/Jul/32.

201 Palmer, ‘Note’, 28 March 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/07/1872/97; Plowden to Secretary, NWP&O, 8 January 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/11.

202 Sells, ‘A—Statement’, 27 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/12; Williams, ‘B—Statement’, 13 December 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/13.

203 C. Robertson to Secretary, GI, 5 June 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/10.

204 See J. Smith, statement, 23 April 1881, in BL/IOR/P/1614/A/Aug/12; Smith, annual report, 25 May 1882, in BL/IOR/P/1816/A/Aug/8.

205 For example, Palmer, ‘Note’, 28 March 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/07/1872/97; Hobart to Edwards, 25 September 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/08/1873/61; Thomas, ‘List of villages’, 20 September 1872, in NAI/HD/JB/08/1873/61; Crooke, Tribes and castes, Vol. 2, pp. 475–8.

206 Sen, Women and labour, pp. 65, 69–73.

207 J. C. Leupolt to Commissioner, Agra, 8 April 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/May/52.

208 Extract of Leed's letter, 16 April 1878, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Apr/7.

209 Sen, Women and labour, pp. 83–5.

210 Hobart, annual report, 1 July 1875, in BL/IOR/P/839/A/Jul/2.

211 Freitag, ‘Crime’, p. 236.

212 Hobart, annual report, 17 July 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/21.

213 Smith, annual report, 9 June 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2208/A/Jan/26.

214 R. S. Aikman to Commissioner, Agra, 30 April 1883, in BL/IOR/P/2208/Jan/33.

215 Dubey was spelt ‘Dobey’ or ‘Doobey’. Liston to Commissioner, Jhansi, 12 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/14.

216 Hobart, annual report, 17 July 1876, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Jan/21.

217 S. Clarke, annual report, 22 July 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/2.

218 R. M. Pocock to DIGP, NWP&O, 17 September 1877, in BL/IOR/P/840/A/Nov/13.

219 A. Ollivant to IGP, NWP, 27 February 1887, in BL/IOR/P/3382/A/Aug/2.

220 Reportedly, some European officials had sexual relationships with Sansi women, but registered people were in more regular contact with Indian police. R. T. Hobart to Secretary, NWP&O, 26 March 1888, in BL/IOR/P/3382/A/Aug/1.

221 C. Donovan to Commissioner, Meerut, 8 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/4.

222 J. L. Ogilvie to Magistrate, Muzaffarnagar, 2 May 1879, in BL/IOR/P/1281/A/Nov/5.

223 Benares Akhbar, 10 July 1873, Selections, p. 477. See also Roznamcha, 2 September 1873, Selections, pp. 565–7. For police rapes of respectable and ‘noble’ women: Matla-i-Nur, 3 March 1874, Selections, p. 99; Vritt Dhara, 13 April 1874, Selections, p. 145; Koh-i-Nur, 19 September 1874, Selections, p. 441; Vakil-i-Hindustan, 23 December 1874, Selections, pp. 650–2.

224 Radhakrishna, Dishonoured by history, p. 62.

225 ‘Citizenising the criminal’, Times of India, 29 May 1894, p. 4. On marriage expense funds and infanticide campaigns: Sen, ‘The savage family’, pp. 69–70.

226 J. Woodburn, to all Commissioners (except Kumaon and Jhansi), 16 June 1891, in BL/IOR/P/4071/A/May/320.

227 ‘Citizenising the criminal’, p. 4.

228 One ‘girl’ was returned from the emigration depot as ‘unfit’, however, and sent to Sultanpur. J. B. Thompson, annual report, 1 October 1894, in BL/IOR/P/4711/A/Jan/5.

229 Bajrange, Gandee and Gould, ‘Settling the citizen’.

230 Comaroff, ‘Colonialism, culture, and the law’, pp. 305–14.

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