November 1, 2021

Violence

Outline

  • 1984 Delhi Riots
    • video (warning)
    • Das (2007)
  • What is ethnic violence?

1984 Delhi Riots

Context

  • Political Conflict in state of Punjab

  • Rise of Sikh Nationalists

  • Amritsar and Operation Blue Star

Context

  • Assassination of Indira Gandhi by Sikh Bodyguards

  • Widespread killing of Sikhs in Delhi

In Groups:

Is this ethnic violence?

What makes this ethnic violence (or not)?

Look a little closer

Das (2007)

What happened during the 1984 riots at a local level?

  • Neighborhood of Sultanpuri
  • Marginal area on outskirts of Delhi

Das (2007)

Das (2007)

Sikh communities largest in:

  • Blocks A4, B2, B3, C3, D2, D6, E3, F2, F4

Das (2007)

Where was the violence?

Das (2007)

What explains these uneven patterns?

Das (2007)

Block A4 and Block A2

  • Neighboring communities of Siglikars (Sikhs)/Chamars (SC Hindu)
  • both migrants to Delhi, relatively low status
  • insecurity of legal tenure to households

This produced …

  • dependence on local politicians (fixers)

Das (2007)

Block A4 and Block A2

  • status divisions between groups: Siglikar Sikhs had remittances from Middle East (nicer homes, consuer goods)
  • disputes between Siglikar/Chamar pradhans (neighborhood leaders) over status in patronage network
  • pradhan status threats from gurudwara

Das (2007)

Local patronage leader was intermediary between:

  • state/local government
  • local organized crime, muscle
  • local laborers
  • police

Das (2007)

Block A4 and Block A2

How the violence happened:

  • started with taunts between A2 and A4 pradhans
  • targeting of Sikh pradhan with police standing by
  • participation of local organized crime
  • violence spread, murder of men, looting of houses
  • invocation of status reversal, murder of Indira Gandhi

Das (2007)

Block B2-B3

Sikhs told by neighbors:

  • violence in A4 was between Chamars and Siglikar Sikhs
  • property not worth looting

Das (2007)

Block D

  • Organized self defense, with help of Hindu neighbors, fended off mobs

Block F

  • Minimal violence

Das (2007)

Personal motives?

  • killing of paramours
  • looting of material goods

Das (2007)

Revisiting…

Is this ethnic violence?

What is ethnic violence?

Ethnic Violence?

What makes violence ethnic?

  • the perpetrators? Who is doing the violence?
  • the victims? Who is targeted in the violence?
  • the form of the violence? What is the technique?
  • discourse about it? How do people present and label the violence?
  • the audience? Who is observing/reacting to the violence?

Conclusion

  • Whether violence is ethnic: not always easy to decide
  • Real-world violence is complex, challenges our narratives
  • Link/disjuncture between what physically happened and the narrative