William Gould speaks at the South Asia Seminar on 21 February 2017
There are two broad trends in historical scholarship on partition: On the one hand, older work traced high politics, and the ‘end-game’ of Empire. On the other, more recent and extensive histories recover partition experiences, refugee politics and everyday violence. Uttar Pradesh and its urban centres were not in partition’s immediate hinterland but were pivotal, this paper argues, at an alternative scale of political mobilisation around volunteer movements. Taking P.D. Tandon’s Hind Rakshak Dal as its central case study, it argues that early 1940s militaristic and drilling organisations were ideologically pivotal to the meaning of ‘Pakistan’ in UP. The paper draws some new conclusions about the significance of these movements’ ideologies of violence to India’s long partition.