ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

The “Securitisation” of Muslims in India: Anti-Minority Violence as Governance


Kaiser Nidah - SOAS, University of London, Politics and International Studies, London, United Kingdom


04- Pathways from Injury: Legal Narratives of Prejudice and the Politics of Hate in South Asia


 This thesis argues that the present observed increase, and shift in the nature, of “communal” violence in Modi’s India, marks a sharp departure from the past, with the crucial difference being the transformation of anti-Muslim violence from a “modality of politics” to a “modality of governance” under the BJP. I, thus, propose the framework of “securitisation” of Muslims, replacing “communal” violence as a framework to view identity-based state and nonstate violence against Muslims in India.

My study situates anti-Muslim violence within the discourse of security. This conceptualisation is important because it understands anti-Muslim violence not solely as instrumental and/or epiphenomenal to Hindutva politics, but as a part of the processes and techniques involved in the social construction of security in a modern, neoliberal state.

I conducted ethnographic fieldwork during 2021–2022 with about 200 interviews across 20 districts in Uttar Pradesh. My analysis is based on 3 types of cases of anti-Muslim violence: lynchings by nonstate actors, police violence during Anti-CAA protests, and anti-conversion cases.

Using these case studies, I theorise the coexistence between the democratic governance – the “politics of life” – and securitisation – the “politics of death.” The entwinement of these two facets of governance is evidenced in the symbolisation of the state’s “maintenance of law and order” through harsh police action, extra-judicial remedies, and creation of illiberal laws.