Administration, political system fail a community

Culprits of Delhi progrom range from hate speech-givers, master minds, the foot soldiers and also those particular cops who either stood like mute spectators or helped the goon-brigades, the actual rioters

Today the non-Sanghis are not believing word of what the political rulers of the day are dishing out in the context of the Delhi pogrom 2020. Foremost, it was a well-planned and well-organised targeted attack against the minority community The Musalmaans. And the accompanying tragedy is that the actual culprits (yes, the real and actual!) are going about scot-free. These culprits range from hate speech-givers, master minds, the foot soldiers and also those particular cops who either stood like mute spectators or helped the goon-brigades, the actual rioters.

The political system and the administrative machinery under its control has failed the Muslims. One has to speak to the survivors to grasp how terrorised they sit. After all, they are the first in the firing line! They have heard enough of those fraudulent political speeches. They have had enough of the communal characters, out to kill them and their children. They know they are at the mercy of the Hindutva brigades hovering around; perhaps, as part the fascist build-ups for further destruction of forms, human or concrete.

What is compounding the tragedy for the Muslims is the biased role of the cops. No sudden development but yes, accelerating at an alarming pace in these times. Reaching absolutely dangerous levels. Making it very, very difficult for the targeted citizen to even survive.

I have been going through the details of riots and rioting taking place in the country. Crucial aspects stand out. The police is either a mute spectator or even goes a step beyond — it does not arrest the actual culprits but the victims! Also, riots are made to happen! After all, riots cannot take off or spread out, without the prior knowledge of the police force and the agencies. Also, if the administration wants it can control riots within an hour or two!Not to overlook a connected fact — the already battered and shattered Muslim community faces a severe setback each time a riot is ‘made to happen’ and with that they are targeted and assaulted and looted and ruined. Lasting dents on the survivors.

Though I have before me several volumes on the communal riots in India but the most comprehensive is ‘Communal Riots The State and Law in India’. Published several years back by the Institute of Objective Studies, edited by Iqbal Ansari, this volume carries ground reports by several IPS officers and civil servants and academics and also well- known known names in the legal sphere — Padam Rosha, KF Rustamji, CV Narasimhan, VN Rai, NC Saxena. Justice Hosbet Suresh, Justice VR Krishna Iyer, VM Tarkunde. These are very detailed reports, with unmoving focus from horrifying disasters that came along with each riot.

Also, highlighted in several of these reports /studies, is the biased role of the police force. …Professor Satish Saberwal and Professor Mushirul Hasan’s study of the Moradabad riots (1980) focuses on the role of the police, “The city’s police, for long weeks, acted rather like a force organized to beat, loot and kill the Muslims. The PAC, in particular collaborated with communal elements and goondas to bring about an open clash between Hindus and Muslims.”

Veteran police officers, VN Rai and PadamRosha, also took note of the fact that there was inadequate, on occasions the near- absence or negligible number of Muslims and other weaker sections in the police and paramilitary forces, making the Amnesty International characterize the PAC a Hindu paramilitary force. ..AG Noorani has also focused on the near- exclusion of minorities from police and paramilitary forces.

♦ ♦ ♦

Though in a democracy the composition of the Police and Paramilitary should not matter, but it does matter if the democracy is itself is going through a crisis phase. If fascist forces are making marked intrusions into everyday life of the citizen, then focus rather too automatically dwells on the State machinery. And in such a dismal scenario the Indian Muslim’s insecurity is bound to get compounded by the low to very low representation of the Muslims in the police force and in the paramilitary, and also in the Agencies.

In fact, during the course of an interview, academic- author,Omar Khalidi, had told me in January, 2010, (months before his death), “Most of the intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces on India do not mirror the diversity of the national population… Since Muslims are not well represented in the IPS, there is every justification for reservation for them. Simultaneously, there ought to be widespread coaching for minorities to compete successfully in the UPSC examination.”

Khalidi had also detailed that the decision of keeping Muslims out of the police force wasn’t a very some recent one but taken years back, To quote him, “When on the recommendation of the National Integration Council (NIC) in 1969, the Home Minister YB Chavan merely broached the idea of recruiting Muslims in the police force, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the precursor of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) opposed it as ‘an invitation to disaster.’”

And as the interview progressed , Khalidi, who was then attached to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, but had been writing extensively on the Muslims in independent India, focused on the fact that Muslims were better represented during the colonial rule.

He detailed, “the Minorities were better represented in the colonial army and police than today… Intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces in India do not mirror the diversity of the national population … Assam Rifles , India’s oldest paramilitary force is composed primarily of Gurkhas — both foreign Nepalis and domiciled; though Assam is nearly 30 percent Muslims, few Muslims are found in the Assam Rifles.”

Khalidi also focused on the low percentage of Muslims in the policeforce of the country. He also drew contrasts the police composition in colonial India and the changes that came were made to come about after Independence. Khalidi’s focus on the changes since Independence.

“The division of British India in mid – 1947 and the abolition of the Princely States heralded major changes in the composition ,though not in the organization of the Police. On 30 June 1947 the Indian Police consisted of 516 officers, including 323 Europeans,63 Muslims and 130 Hindus and others. The overwhelming majority of the British officers opted for retirement and compensation for loss of career. and practically all the Muslim officers opted for Pakistan. The police officers of Punjab and Bengal were to be divided on communal lines. The Punjab Police had a total strength of 35,457 at the beginning of 1947. East Punjab was left with only 30% thereof on 15 August. The Hindu officers and men in the N.W.E.P and in the Sind Police were allowed to migrate to India. In the remaining provinces a large number of Muslims from the ranks of the Dy. S P (Deputy Superintendent of Police) to constable were likewise allowed to migrate to Pakistan. This resulted in a serious depletion of the police in all northern princely states of India, and to a lesser extent in Bombay , Madras , CP and Orissa ‘.”

Commenting on the ethnic and religious composition of the security forces in India, he detailed, “There is a clear and consistent pattern of recruitment in the army. The army’s infantry regiments are still recruited in states and areas with “martial races”, i.e. in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and western UP. These so called “martial races” are Hindu, Sikh and Gorkha. There are very few Muslims among the jawans and still fewer among the officers. Officers are fewer partly because Muslims’ educational level, and thus the ability to compete in the UPSC examination, is poor. Dalits are also conspicuous by their absence. Christians are well represented in the officer class. The Rapid Action Force of the CRPF has a good representation of Muslims. The composition of police is also somewhat similar. There are far fewer Muslim police officers, and within that a tiny number of IPS officers.”

♦ ♦ ♦

Today, in the Spring of 2020, as a concerned citizen of this country, I would like to know these pertinent queries in the context of this latest 2020 pogrom we have witnessed in New Delhi — How many of those arrested and detained are from the minority community? On what charges? How many of them are young teenagers?

And together with this, those questions that might sound difficult to ask but one has to ask, because we are living in very difficult times — What is the percentage of Muslims in the Delhi Police force in terms of officers and also constables? Also, what is the percentage of Muslims in the Uttar Pradesh police force? Do the numbers of the Muslims in the police force, in New Delhi and also in Uttar Pradesh, tally with their population percentage?

Perhaps the most significant query — what efforts and initiatives are on or could get on, to truly sensitize the police force, so that any one from any caste or creed, in distress or in danger, can walk up the cops and be certain that he or she would stand protected and secure!