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

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Two Parallel Lines That Meet

India’s Legacy of Communalism, Impunity, and Justice from 1984 to 2020

Perceived wisdom postulates that the ascent into liberal democratic politics correspondingly diminishes ascriptive identity-based violence. The Indian political landscape, on the contrary, has witnessed an increasing normalisation of communalism. The upsurge in communal rhetoric, politics, and violence is a product of India’s long history of communalism in politics. Contemporary expressions of communalism are historicised in this paper by examining Delhi’s encounters with mass violence in 1984 and 2020. Spread across almost four decades, these two cases provide an interesting vantage point to contextualise and critically analyse religious violence, political polarisation, and ethnic divides by tracing its roots in mainstream politics.

The author expresses their deepest gratitude to the reviewer for taking out the time to meticulously read through the paper and offer their valuable suggestions to improve it and make it more nuanced. The author would also like to thank Manish Kumar Jha for his constant support and guidance throughout their research, of which this paper is a product.

The author would also like to extend their heartfelt appreciation to everyone who participated in this research by taking out their valuable time and sharing their lived experiences, expertise, and resources with me. Finally, the author is extremely grateful to their friends Aakanksha and Manmeet for reading through various iterations of this paper.

This paper is based on the author’s MPhil dissertation at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

In the seven decades of India’s independence and democratic governance, the tradition of communal violence has stationed itself as a chronic phenomenon (Ahmed 1984; Thapar 1990; Singh 2015), incrementally infusing into public consciousness. Gradually, its infl uence in sociopolitics has grown and its horizon of effects has widened. The heightening of communal tensions and increase in communal incidents (Bryjak 1986; Wilkinson 2000; Brass 2006; Gupta 2007; Guha 2013) have given a renewed vigour to the protracted phenomenon of communalism. The last decade has also witnessed its accelerated mainstreaming as majoritarianism has penetrated into dominant political discourses and policies with the coming to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014.

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Published On : 22nd Mar, 2024

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