Friday, October 09, 2009

Does the state have a monopoly on violence?

The targeted kidnapping and beheading of a Jharkhand police inspector, almost certainly by Naxalites, is seen as taking the conflict to a new level. Chhattisgarh-based doctor Binayak Sen (whose judicial travails this blog closely followed here, here and here ) disagrees. In this interview with me, he argues that a) this level of brutality is not new, and b) Naxal violence is only a consequence of state violence. What I wanted to explore further is his insistence that state violence and Naxal violence are equally illegitimate. I pointed out that state violence against him at least had the check of a judicial process, lawyers, and finally bail. But the violence that the Naxals inflicted on the Jharkhand inspector had no semblance of 'due process'. Binayak Sen replied that what the state had done to him was hardly representative. I'm sure there is an extensive body of research on this. Any political theorists out there -- on the legitimacy of democratically-sanctioned violence?
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