Surveillance, Analysis, and Violence: The Operations of the Bengal Police Intelligence Branch

  • Michael SilvestriEmail author
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


Chapter 3 explores how colonial intelligence against the revolutionaries was gathered, ordered, and understood. Colonial anxieties about “Bengali terrorism” led to the growth of an extensive intelligence apparatus. District Intelligence Branches established throughout the province sought to enhance the intelligence-gathering capacity of the police regarding the revolutionary movement and to remedy the persistent information-gathering deficiencies of the colonial state. The chapter highlights the crucial role in the colonial state’s counter-terrorism campaign played by Indian officers, who were the primary mode of contact between informants and British officers, as well as the degree to which the use of torture and coercion was a colonial strategy. Lastly, this chapter analyzes the ways in which officials sought to convert the masses of information they collected into histories of the Bengali revolutionaries which sought to predict their future actions. While the hopes of police officials for an all-encompassing intelligence structure failed to materialize, intelligence work nevertheless played an important role in the widespread use of detention without trial, one of the major weapons deployed by the colonial state against the revolutionaries.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History DepartmentClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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