How do protests and security regimes engage each other on the question of difference? This question frames this essay's ethnographic portrayal of the expression of dissent and political claims in a borderland site of national security and the Indian security state's management of such dissent to reinforce its legitimacy as a liberal democracy. Border residents in eastern India, predominantly Muslim or depressed caste, are minority citizens. By closely reading the terms through which they articulate their claims and humiliations and how they are rendered suspect, subordinated, and othered from fulsome democratic rights and citizenship, this essay offers a portrait of the slow violence of affective rule in a place of “no conflict.” Turning away from spectacular instances of militarism and state violence, this essay illuminates the affective force of militarization whose goal is to disable critique and segment minority citizens into subordinated inclusion. It asks how collective political action might be heard and endure in such constrained conditions. This specific locus is instructive for the logic of contradistinction as a mode of security rule more widely. It demonstrates that the intersection of gender and religious identity is not a “dimension” of contemporary national security regimes but must be seen as foundational to their constitution and legitimacy.

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