Saturday, November 07, 2015

Mukul Kesavan on Trilokpuri riots

Thirty years after: The Trilokpuri riots in Delhi:
"The thing to remember about these hardscrabble neighbourhoods is that given their origins, their residents weren’t citizens, they were desperately poor clients dependent on the State and its political operatives for every basic facility and amenity. Nothing was theirs by right; even more than in the rest of India, their lives depended on the vagaries of local politics and their access (or lack of it), to patronage and ‘protection’.
Old urban neighbourhoods where communities have lived adjacently or intermingled over many generations sometimes develop inter-community networks that help their residents negotiate communal flashpoints without violence, as Ashutosh Varshney has shown in his book, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life. But in urban settlements created by bureaucratic fiat as holding pens for Delhi’s poor, life is a Hobbesian zero-sum game where common sense consists of staying on the right side of Leviathan and its grubbing agents.
This dependency, this permanent state of clientage is why the Congress-directed pogrom of 1984 was bloodiest in the resettlement colonies. Contrary to the durable urban myth that riots are engineered by ‘outsiders’, the Sikh residents of Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri were killed by their neighbours, by people they lived with and recognized. Their killers weren’t inherently evil: their urban circumstance had made them creatures of a vicious State apparatus and they jumped to do its bidding."
Soutik Biswas also comments Why the riots in Delhi's Trilokpuri are significant

No comments: