By Sanjib Baruah
By all indications, the lynching of Syed Sharif Khan was the result of an episode of moral panic about the so-called IBI — “illegal Bangladeshi Immigrant” — in Dimapur. Sociologists use the term “moral panic” to describe heightened public anxiety, triggered by media frenzy, about an individual, a minority group or a subculture seen as an imminent threat to social order.
Thanks to a metro-centric bias, we don’t think of places like Dimapur as urban spaces. However, those who study urbanisation in India deeply disagree with the way urban spaces are officially defined. Concepts like subaltern urbanisation or vernacular urbanism, debated among academics, give a sense of the issues involved. In the words of Naga journalist Y. Merina Chishi, Dimapur is “a city of villages”.