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When Load Riots Are Not Merely Local-Bringing the State Back In, Bijnor 1988-92

When Load Riots Are Not Merely Local Bringing the State Back In, Bijnor 1988-92 Amrita Basu The prevailing approaches to the study of communal riots prompt several issues. First, it seems imperative that scholarship on riots incorporates both the view from above and the view from below, for each perspective illuminates only part of the story. Without this sense of historical evolution it would be difficult to explain why Bijnor experienced riots in 1990 rather them 30 or 40 years earlier. Second, only a close examination of conflicts at the local level reveals the interweaving of economic, political and social strands that are more difficult to disentangle at the national level Third, the concept of agency needs to be informed by an understanding of the ways in which it is often inextricably linked to victimisation. Fourth, the importance of depicting the state in the plural rather than the singular, and in particular of exploring its role at the local level, needs to be emphasised IN October 1990 the town of Bijnor, in western Uttar Pradesh, experienced a major Hindu-Muslim riot. Official sources estimate that 87 people were killed; unofficial estimates range from 198 to 300.l This was among the most serious of the many riots that took place in the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) campaign to build a temple at the supposed birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Other violent events took place in the cities of Ahmedabad and Baroda in Gujarat, and in Shamili and Gorakhpur in UP; tensions were also reported in Allahabad, Faizabad, and Bareilly.

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