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Sur. Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos

On-line version ISSN 1983-3342


BHUWANIA, Anuj. Very wicked children: "indian torture" and the madras torture commission report of 1855. Sur, Rev. int. direitos human. [online]. 2009, vol.6, n.10, pp. 06-27. ISSN 1983-3342.

While it is often argued that police torture is institutionalised in India, the only authoritative government-backed study of the practice in the history of modern India is the Madras Torture Commission Report of 1855. In the context of the silence that surrounds present-day police violence in India, the rather curious phenomenon of an investigative Commission, instituted by a colonial state, over a hundred and fifty years ago, is particularly interesting. In this article, I attempt a textual analysis of this Report, and an investigation of its ideological and historical context I argue that the Report primarily served to discursively "manage" the issue of torture, by erasing the complicity of the colonial state in its practice, and that the reforms it suggested resulted in the institutionalisation of a specifically colonial model in the restructuring of the Indian police, a structure that substantially survives to this day.

Keywords : Torture; Police; Colonialism.

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