The Mumbai Mirror, January 8, 2010. A photograph shows a line of proud Mumbai police officers standing behind row upon row of what appear at first sight to be rusted machine guns (see fig. 1). But this is not one of the arms caches regularly unearthed to demonstrate the force’s effectiveness against the myriad terrorist networks that regularly target urban sites in contemporary India. Rather, the objects are water booster pumps, confiscated in a new campaign of dawn raids targeting “water theft” by slum dwellers in the Shivaji Nagar and
Govandi districts (see fig. 2 map below). “Stealing Water to Earn a Few Bucks?” the headline reads. “Pay a Hefty
Price!” (Sathe 2010). The article details how the raids are being backed up by new legal moves to criminalize certain uses of water. Hundreds of people, arrested for installing and using the pumps, are to be prosecuted under draconian and nonbailable laws such as the Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act. All this activity is portrayed unproblematically as a heroic response to the threat that...