Crime Criminality And Crime Control In Mughal India
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Historians of South Asia have largely ignored the history of crime and criminality in medieval India. In their reluctance to treat it as a valid theme of study, they are, perhaps, guided by an implicit assumption that crime is merely an 'illegal' activity carrying no significance in
historical development, except as a temporary aberration. However, what this oft-held assumption does not explain the process through which an activity becomes 'illegal.' There are actually no universal normative principles that define crime, but the framework within which a society demarcates 'normal' and 'legal' activities from the deviant and illegal once, is determined by its political, social and cultural setting. It has rightly been pointed out by Michelle Perrot that there are no 'facts' of crime as such, but what we often know as facts, is only a judgment process that institute crime by designating as criminal both certain acts and their perpetrators. In a similar vein, another historian says, 'crime is not an essential but an existential category.
The Mughal legal sacral system, indeed, was also implicated in power relations, but what we do not know is the extent to which it served to perpetuate class inequalities from the framework of crime and criminality should, hopefully, place us in a better position to assess their roles in the perpetuation of social inequalities and the hierarchical ordering of the society.
My research on crime and criminality in Mughal India should, therefore, not be seen as merely a study of aberrant and 'illegal' activities. It is rather intended to be a much wider study of the social history of the period. It seeks to enrich our understanding of popular resistance, class conflicts, law and authority, state ideological apparatus and normative system by exploring their relations with crime, criminality and crime control.
The study is divided into five chapters. The first chapter, entitled, 'Love, Lust, Women and Crime', deals with sexual crimes and crimes against women. It looks at the efforts through which the state defined, repressed and controlled sexual deviance. It also explores the impact of state intervention in sexual crimes in reinforcing patriarchy, and the subordination of women in the society. The second chapter, 'Poverty and Crime in Mughal India', deals with ordinary crimes, resulting from poverty. Poverty was rampant in Mughal dynasty, and was an important source of crimes in Mogul India.
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
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