chapter  8
Riot, police and the city
Pages 46

Once again let us go back to the colonial time, in fact to the last decade of the colonial rule – the 1940s. To understand the dilemmas, structural peculiarities and contradictions of post-colonial governance it is important to study contentious events which congeal these features and contradictions. This is the method that this book is trying to follow. Governance is a process; yet the process makes sense only when it is held up in the mirror of an event. There is one more reason why we are going to retell in this chapter the story of the riots in Kolkata, known as the Great Calcutta Killings – specifically its first three days 16-18 August, because it is not only one of the foundational images of modern police governance, but also the story of crowds, frenzy, police operations, slums, battle over the urban space, warring blocs and many other things with which urban governance is associated. With Calcutta Riots we can say that the city came to occupy a central place in the history of governance in contemporary India.