The paper aims to relocate discussions on police stops and police interactions from the Anglophone world to the particularistic context of the post-colonial state of India. The paper further frames the everyday policing practices in a theoretical dialog between questions of legitimacy, accountability and tolerated illegalities. For that purpose, the author contextualizes the discussion in the post-colonial state of India, in the jurisdictions of two police stations (PSs), in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the State of Kerala.
The author conducted ethnographic studies in one station each in Kerala and Delhi, India, from February to July 2019 and July 2019 to January 2020, respectively. The study mapped everyday power relations as the relations manifested within the site and jurisdiction of the PSs.
Through the research, the author found that to fully understand everyday practices of policing, especially police interactions and police stops, one must contextualize the police force within the administrative power-sharing relations, police force’s accountability structures, legal procedures and class dynamics, which mark the terrain in which personnel function. In that terrain, the author found that the dialog between particularistic legitimacy, accountability and tolerated illegalities offered an important framework to interpret the everyday policing practices.
Through the paper, the author seeks to expand the analysis of ethnographic descriptions of policing by contextualizing them in the political economy of the state. In doing so, the author aims to provide a framework through which police interactions in post-colonial India could be understood.