ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Behind the Blackened Faces: The 19th Century Bengali Dacoits

The stereotype of the dacoit in colonial Bengal is that of a social deviant or popular protestor. With the help of little known official reports and the confessions of dacoits, this paper attempts to place dacoity in the context of the mid-19th century's exploitative rural structure, examine the reasons that led to a spurt in dacoity during that period, the intriguing rituals and organisational structure of the gangs and the nexus between the police and these violent men.

West Bengal : New Left Has to Please All

The Left Front has made tremendous strides in retaining its support base and in fact recapturing some. But now it needs to steer a careful course, for instance, balancing industrial growth and harmonious industrial relations and focusing on such issues as gender justice, health, welfare and quality of life issues.

Regional Security through Constructive Bilateralism

Enormous scope exists for mutually beneficial economic cooperation between India and Pakistan. Reviewing the status of Indo-Pak relations, this article argues that constructive bilaterialism between the two countries would create the conditions for regional stability in south Asia.

The Goondas-Towards a Reconstruction of the Calcutta Underworld through Police Records

Towards a Reconstruction of the Calcutta Underworld through Police Records Suranjan Das Research on the history of British and American crime has shown that at particular historical junctures, crime can be a prologue to conscious and articulate resistance by the dispossessed. Some hitherto unutilised Bengal Police files on 'goondas' in Calcutta are examined from this point of view. These are found to be valuable sources for the historical study of the operation of the police and the legal structure in the colonial period and after.

Rural Crime in Police Perception-A Study of Village Crime Note Books

A Study of Village Crime Note Books "THE criminal produces not only crimes, but also criminal law, and with this the professor who gives lectures on criminal law", thus noted Karl Marx with his usual insight. 1 It is, however, only in the last two decades in Europe and very recently in India that historians have started treating crime as an important theme of social history, relating its changing contours to different political, social and economic parameters.2 For obvious reasons studies on crime have invariably fallen back on police and court records as the data bank, although such works as Richard Cobb's The Police and the People have made us aware of the pitfalls of a straightforward reliance on police informers' reports. The present paper draws attention of historians of modern India to Village Crime Note Books (VCNBs), a relatively unknown and hitherto underutilised police record which could be fruitfully used for the reconstruction of the social history of crime in Bengal at the grassroots level. Our observations are based on an intensive scrutiny of the extant volumes of this series in one particular thana (police station) of West Bengal

Themes in Political Protest

Bengal 1928-1934: The Politics of Protest by Tanika Sarkar; OUP, Delhi, TANIKA SARKAR's Bengal 1928-1934: The Politics of Protest has made a pioneering contribution to modern Indian historiography in more than one respect. It has attained a significant breakthrough in historical methodology by integrating the chronology with the theme; it has enriched our understanding of twentieth century Bengal by projecting linkages between various strands of protest politics which have been traditionally treated in isolation. Although Sarkar sets out to follow a 'strictly chronological framework' (p 3), in actual practice she has successfully highlighted within a particular time-span the main themes of the 'politics of protest in Bengal. The starting and terminating points of Sarkar's work are significant: the former marks the renewal of agitational politics which ended the period of lull caused by the withdrawal of the Non-cooperation Movement; the latter signifies the collapse of the Civil Disobedience and revolutionary terrorism, and hence, the close of an eventful chapter in India's struggle for freedom. As is inevitable for such studies, the official discourse forms the major source material for the present work. But the information from official records hasbeen also corroborated by such non-official sources as newspapers, private papers, contemporary memoirs, the rich collection of proscribed Bengali literature at the India Office Library and the oral testimonies of those who have lived through the fateful years. What has resulted is a balanced and ordered presentation.

Towards an Understanding of Communal Violence in Twentieth Century Bengal

Based on a historical study of communal riots in Bengal during 1905-47, the author attempts to understand why and how Hindu-Muslim communal violence occurred. The popular rather than the elite dimension of com- munalism is the focus of analysis. The author tries to explain the transition from community consciousness to communalism mainly in terms of the changing relationship between organised and unorganised politics.
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