From Raj to Republic
Sovereignty, Violence, and Democracy in India
Sunil Purushotham


Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: Sovereignty, Violence, and Democracy, 1946<->52
chapter abstract

This chapter argues for approaching the book's three case studies—the princely state of Hyderabad, the partitioned Punjab, and revolutionary Telangana—as constituent parts of a multicentric subcontinental event of violent transformation. Violence brought about significant changes to sovereignty in India and was integral to the foundation of the Indian Republic out of the wreckage of the Raj.

1 Azad Hyderabad in the Age of Empire and Nationalism
chapter abstract

This chapter takes the Nizam of Hyderabad's declaration of independence in June 1947 as a starting point for reconsidering Hyderabad's place within the Raj, sovereignty in Britain's Indian Empire, imperial constitutionalism, federalism and federation, Hyderabad's status as a modern and "Muslim" state, and the role of the Indian princely states in the development of Indian republicanism and the Partition of India.

2 The Battle for Hyderabad
chapter abstract

This chapter argues for understanding the events leading up to and following the September 1948 "Police Action" in Hyderabad as a multifaceted event of violent contestation over sovereignty and territory in the Deccan. After August 1947, partisan cadres of the Hyderabad State Congress and the Socialist Party waged a campaign of armed struggle and sabotage from camps along the borders of the Nizam's dominions. The government of India implemented a blockade of Hyderabad State and prepared for a military intervention, while neighboring provincial governments raised home guards and dispatched armed police along the Hyderabad border. Within Hyderabad, the Majlis and the Razakars sought to mobilize the state's Muslims in defense of the Nizam's bid for independence. The Police Action resulted in an event of violence that targeted Hyderabad's Muslims and was understood by India's nationalist leadership as a democratic revolution against feudal autocracy and minority rule.

3 Foundational Violence: State and Society in Partitioned Punjab
chapter abstract

This chapter explores how the transformation of an imperial space into an international border was grounded in sovereign claims over populations and individual bodies. The chapter examines the experiences of Punjab's subaltern groups—lower castes, tribals, Christians, converts, prisoners, and abducted women—to illuminate how social hierarchies were reanimated by new ideological frameworks as they were inscribed and internalized within a new national regime of sovereignty and citizenship. Violence provided the pretext and context for originary invocations of citizenship and for the forging of a new social contract after August 1947. Displaced peoples and other victims made claims upon the state as a matter of right: claims to security, restitution, and welfare.

4 Nation and Narration: Testimony, Citizenship, and Sovereignty
chapter abstract

This chapter examines first-person testimonial narratives—"statements"—in the East Punjab Liaison Agency archive to explore the ways in which the speech of Partition survivors was provoked, appropriated, and concealed. By making explicit claims upon state resources and tasking the state with rectifying wrongs, these testimonial narratives provide a glimpse into practices of citizenship, the grammar of sovereignty, and fraught relations of power at a foundational moment of Indian democracy.

5 An Indian Yan'an: Telangana, 1946<->52
chapter abstract

From 1946 until 1951, peasant revolutionaries in the Telangana districts of Hyderabad State, led by the Andhra Mahasabha and the Communist Party of India (CPI), battled landlords, the Nizam, and the Indian Union. They fought for praja rajyam, people's rule. This entailed a complete remaking of rural social relations, and Telangana was at the center of the wider upsurge of subaltern forces that swept India after the Second World War. At the same time, the Congress-led government of India was refashioning the Raj into a sovereign nation-state, and the Constituent Assembly was developing the juridical and institutional basis of postcolonial India's liberal democracy. In the days after the Police Action, Indian Union forces initiated a counterinsurgency that would continue until the end of 1951, when the CPI unilaterally withdrew from the armed struggle in order to participate in India's first general election in early 1952.

6 The Camp and the Citizen
chapter abstract

In late 1949, the government of Hyderabad initiated the Tribal Rehabilitation (or Reclamation) Scheme. Adivasis living in the hill and forest regions of Telangana were, by the thousands, forcibly relocated to roadside camps or settlements called Rural Welfare Centres. This chapter examines these camps as spaces of sovereignty that sought to induct tribal people at the internal frontier of the Indian nation-state into a national regime of citizenship. It explores how the camps connected "development" and security, care and control, and life and death.

Epilogue: From Raj to Republic, 1946<->52
chapter abstract

The epilogue reconsiders decolonization and independence in India in light of the book's case studies. It questions the role of violence in bringing about accelerated change in the subcontinent and whether the events described in the book constitute a revolution.