03 August, 2021

On A Collusion Course

Powerfully persuasive, well-researched take on the dynamics of communal violence

On A Collusion Course
A foremost scholar on the post-Independence politics of Uttar Pradesh and professor emeritus at the University of Washington, Paul Brass has used his 42 years of research on and in India, to document how Hindu-Muslim violence is produced and persists. He has picked on Aligarh as the site for his investigations where he has examined in meticulous detail the political, demographic, social and economic factors which have produced a series of riots from 1946 to 1995. He has looked into every mohalla and gali of Aligarh and personally interviewed countless instigators, participants and victims of violence. On the basis of his Aligarh explorations, he has expanded his thesis to analyse the dynamics of riot production in India. Citing ample evidence, he dismisses the commonplace notion that riots are spontaneous outbursts of murderous violence between frenzied mobs.

Referring to specific incidents in the Sarai Sultani mohalla of Aligarh, Brass asks: "How do such ghastly atrocities akin to Nazi violence occur in democratic India?" His answers are also specific: "First, the police are...

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