ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kolkata 'Underworld' in the Early 20th Century

In the course of the 19th century, Kolkata had acquired a distinctly cosmopolitan 'underworld'. By the end of the century, new forms of urban disturbances had emerged in the city in the form of riots. This saw the emergence of the professional hoodlum or the 'goonda' as a manufacturer of violence in the city. At first they were largely 'upcountry' labourers, but in the course of time there was a wide variety of goondas in terms of origin and social background. By 1923, the Goondas Act had been promulgated ostensibly with the aim of controlling such hoodlums engaged in a range of 'criminal' acts, as defined by the colonial legislation.

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