History and Historiography

Were Thugs of India religious terrorists or mere bandits? The evidence of Hockley’s Pandurang Hari

By Dr. Ayusman Chakraborty

Published in 1826,  Pandurang Hari by William Browne Hockley is effectively the first English novel to feature the Thugs of India – a fact almost never recognized till now. However, Hockley’s description of the Thugs in this novel contradicts colonial and contemporary conceptualizations of Thuggee as an organized crime grounded in religious fanaticism. This short article explores whether Hockley’s portrayal of the Thugs can be cited as an evidence to contradict the conceptualization of Thuggee as ‘religious terror.’


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