Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India

Armed Forces, Police and Paramilitary During Communal Riots

Second Edition, revised and enlarged

ISBN(s) 81-88789-71-2
Pub. Date December 2009
Pages xii+196 pages
Dimensions 8.5 x 5.5 in
Rights All Rights Available
  India Elsewhere
Paperback 81-88789-71-2
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India’s military, paramilitary, and the police constitute one of the largest security forces around the globe. Who constitutes these forces? What is the ethnic and religious background of these troops? Does the composition of these forces mirror the diversity of the Indian society? Have their composition undergone any change since Independence? Like other nations with ethno-religious diversity, India has experienced half a century of ethnic riots, massacres, even pogroms. What impact, if any does the ethnic and religious composition of the security personnel has on the ability of the state to prevent the occurrence of ethnic violence or to mitigate loss of lives and property once it occurs? Answers to these questions are critical to anyone interested in understanding the role of the state’s most critical instrument of legitimate coercion – the security forces. This book provides the answers with precision and economy of words. In this respect Khaki and the Ethnic Violence in India simply has no rival.


  1. Preface to the First Edition
  2. Indian Armed Forces: Ethnic Composition and Role During Riots and Pogroms
  3. Indian Police: Ethnic Composition and Performance During Riots and Pogroms
  4. Intelligence Agencies and Central Paramilitary Forces
  5. Appendix: Report of the Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (2003-04)

Cover photo: Douglas Curran/AFP


This fascinating, highly original study of the social composition of the police and the paramilitary by Omar Khalidi should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the uses and abuses of communal violence in contemporary India. Few scholars have linked communal rioting to the ethnic composition of the police and military, and Khalidi breaks new ground in uncovering this dimension of the problem. Particularly valuable is the comparative framing of the research, in which the author examines police forces in different states, thereby allowing a consideration of how party politics interfaces with police composition to produce variable outcomes. I commend Khalidi for having the courage to write this book.

— Diane E. Davis, Associate Professor of Political Sociology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Investigating the ethno-religious composition of the armed forces, paramilitary and the police is a a sensitive topic in almost all diverse societies. It is even more so in countries torn by frequent and prolonged bouts of ethno-religious violence such as India. Omar Khalidi's book treats the subject with great sensitivity by marshalling new and original data and weaving it into a highly absorbing account. Given the absence of any other book on the subject, Khaki and the Ethnic Violence has no rival!

— Sheryl Jackson, University of Wales at Lampeter, UK

The information on the ethnic composition of the IPS and paramilitary is unique, I think. The examination of police performance in various states is also very informative. The conclusions about the factors accounting for biased police performance during riots is original and correct, and the argument that ethnic composition alone is not determinative is persuasive.

— David H. Bayley, Distinguished Professor, State University of New York at Albany

[This study is] highly interesting and pioneering in that [it covers] ground that no one else have dealt with in a systematic fashion. [The] papers on police and army are most immediately relevant in the context of recent tragic events in Gujarat…There are many disturbing and important pieces of information in [this] work that would deserve wider attention.

— Thomas Blom Hansen, University of Edinburgh

About Omar Khalidi Read full profile ›

Dr. Omar Khalidi (1953 – 29 November 2010) was born in Hyderabad, India and was an eminent Muslim scholar, a staff member of MIT in the USA and an author. He was educated in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He is referred to as... Read more

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