Communalism and the Law in India (Gene Thursby, 7/11/00)

Contributed to RISA-L by Gene Thursby
Today (July 15, 2000) the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Chhagan Bhujbal, granted permission to the Mumbai police to take action against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and Samajwadi Party city unit president Abu Asim Azmi for alleged inflammatory editorials and speeches around the time of the communal riots in the city in 1993.

If these cases move forward, the government can be expected to prosecute under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for inciting or inflaming religious/communal passions.

Among the many relevant contextualizing resources are the following —

[1] On IPC 153A in the colonial period:

Barrier, N. Gerald. Banned: Controversial Literature and Political Control in British India. (University of Missouri Studies LXI) Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1974.

Thursby, G. R. Hindu-Muslim Relations in British India: A Study of Controversy, Conflict, and Communal Movements in Northern India, 1923-1928 (Studies in the History of Religions XXXV) Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975.

[2] On the Shiv Sena:

Banerjee, Sikata. Warriors in Politics: Hindu Nationalism, Violence, and the Shiv Sena in India. Boulder and Oxford: Westview Press, 2000.

Basu, Amrita and Atul Kohli, eds. Community Conflicts and the State in India. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod. Ethnicity and Equality: the Shiv Sena Party and Preferential Policies in Bombay. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979.

[3] On Communal Politics and Civil Disorder:

Brass, Paul R. The Politics of India since Independence. 2nd edn. (The New Cambridge History of India IV.1) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Brass, Paul R., ed. Riots and Pogroms. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Das, Veena, ed. Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Jaffrelot, Christophe. The Hindu Nationalism Movement in India. (updated and trans. from the French) New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Juergensmeyer, Mark. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Kakar, Sudhir. The Colors of Violence: Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Kumar, Pramod, ed. Towards Understanding Communalism. Chandigarh: Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, 1992.

Tambiah, Stanley J. Leveling Crowds: Ethonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Van der Veer, Peter. Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

[4] In addition, see the several volumes generated by (or spun off from) the Fundamentalism Project of Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, the collaborative volumes edited by Robert D. Baird, and some of the contributions toward Subaltern Studies.

Please note that the potentially relevant bibliography is very large and highly contested. The putatively analytic terms ‘communal(ism)’ and ‘fundamentalism’ have been critiqued repeatedly from a number of perspectives.