Heroism, Humanity and Humiliation in the Context of Naxal Jailbreaks in India – Københavns Universitet

17. april 2018

Heroism, Humanity and Humiliation in the Context of Naxal Jailbreaks in India

Associate Professor Atreyee Sen has written the chapter ‘Mocking the State: Heroism, Humanity and Humiliation in the Context of Naxal Jailbreaks in India,’ in 'Prison Breaks - towards a Sociology of Escape'. 

She explores the violent tension between anti-state movements and local government. The ongoing conflict has resulted in mass prison escapes orchestrated by anti-state political movements in India, while the government responds with misuse of power and brutal counter-insurgency operations.

Based on both a sociographic analysis and ethnographic fieldwork, the chapter demonstrates how the Naxalites’, a communist anti-government movement, well-planned prison attacks, revolts, and escapes mock the state by exposing the prison system as an administrative and organizational disaster. Drawing on in-depth commentary on various print and media sources, it is illustrated how human dignity and self-determination are deeply embedded in the jailbreaks, while it is also highlighted how fragile the state is when retaining control over its detention and punishment. The chapter argues how resistance and jailbreaks become a moral triumph for the anti-state political prisoners, as the jailbreaks represent an escape from the authority of the state.