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Development of an Institutionalised Riot System in Meerut City, 1961 to 1982

Meerut city in Uttar Pradesh (India) has been a site of endemic Hindu-Muslim riots since before Independence. In Meerut, as in other cities and towns in northern India and elsewhere, an institutionalised system of riot production (IRS) has been created, which can be activated during periods of political mobilisation or at the time of elections. This article focuses on two riots in Meerut that occurred in post-Independence India, divided by a gap of 20 years. The 1961 riot is presentd as a benchmark to contrast with the much deadlier killings that occurred in 1982, to illustrate how the IRS became more efficient and deadly in the intervening period and to explain how and why these changes took place.