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Forensic Nationalism: Everyday Politics of Normalising Violence


· Reyazul Haque Leibniz-Zmo (Berlin, Germany)
· Farhana Latief Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India)


07/27 | 09:00-09:20 UTC+2/CEST


This paper analyses the preference of use of forensic science methods in ‘certain chosen violence related cases' in the processes of legal investigation within the criminal justice system in India. The paper argue that this preference of forensic methods is aimed at deliberately complicating the processes of criminal investigations which renders the justice mechanism inaccessible to the people at large who do not understand the language of forensics techniques and the results thereof. This paper will employ the case studies of Godhra Train case (2002), Shopian Rape and Murder case (2009), and the case of Akhlaq’s lynching (2015) to substantiate the argument of the paper. Moreover, this forensic investigation culture has also led to the creation of such a socio-political environment where certain political claims get legitimised as facts which leads to obfuscation of an otherwise transpicuous facts. Using this framework, we illustrate how the use of forensic science methods of investigation in ‘randomly yet handpicked cases of violence’ has created a space for the rise of contemporary right-wing anti-minority politics in India where violence is normalised in absence of any sense of accountability. And as an extension of this sense of impunity, the delay in delivery of justice assists the agenda of the right-wing nationalist parties. For this purpose, our paper will problematise the reliability of forensic science on one hand, and will investigate the tendency to displace the question of socio-political justice with a web of what can be called ‘forensic facts’, which eventually normalises the crime and feeds into the making of a majoritarian right-wing political order.