The Indian police have wide discretionary powers of stop and search. One peculiar and regular manifestation of this power is ‘nakabandi’ (meaning blockade), where the police set up road blocks on important road junctions and conduct stop and search operations. This paper is the first attempt of its kind to describe the way the Mumbai police exercise these powers in the form of nakabandi and what is achieved from these operations. The conditions under which the police conduct stop and search operations in Mumbai and their effectiveness are discussed. While police nakabandi do not ostensibly raise allegations of racial discrimination and controversy like police stop and search operations in the West, nevertheless several questions regarding their purpose and efficacy arise, especially in relation to the amount of time and resources devoted to these operations.
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