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

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Criminalisation of Bengali Muslims after the 2008 Jaipur Bomb Blasts

The lives of Bengali Muslims in a slum in Jaipur changed overnight after the bomb blasts of 2008. Through narratives gathered from the field, how the criminalisation and dehumanisation of a community was made possible is shown.

A previous version of this article was presented at the conference “Rethinking Cities in the Global South” on 22 January 2016 at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.The author would like to thank the Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi, and Ashwin Parulkar, the co-researcher for the fieldwork. The field notes were collectively compiled by the CES team.

In May 2008, bomb blasts killed 67 people in the city of Jaipur, including both Hindus and Muslims from five states (PUCL 2008). The aftermath of the blasts saw stigmatisation and criminalisation of Bengali Muslims who had been living in Jaipur for the last four to five decades. The Centre for Equity Studies (CES), a Delhi-based think tank, conducted a national-level study on destitution, the empirical findings of which are presented in this article. In Jaipur, Bengali Muslims were an already marginalised community and they were further dehumanised and discriminated against after the blasts. The members of this community living in the Manoharpura kachi basti (slum) in the southern part of Jaipur were interviewed.

Labelled Bangladeshis, their identities had been questioned by the same state that had once issued them voter identity cards and used them as vote banks. Several male members in the community were picked up by the police soon after the blasts. Their voter identity and ration cards were cancelled and their civil, political, and socio-economic rights were suspended. They were asked to prove their citizenship by the state in order to continue their right to reside in the slums of the city. Many Bengali Muslim families fled the city fearing police harassment. Others went back to Bengal to bring their birth certificates, a process that was far from easy. Most of the men and women from this community worked as ragpickers and domestic helpers. Their livelihoods and incomes were severely affected.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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