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PAC anti-Muslim bias confirmed; 7 jawans suspended for looting

Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), the para-military force of Uttar Pradesh once used to be an striking force of repute but of late it earned notoriety of not only being an anti-Muslim but a force lacking sensitivity. If the target is Muslim so good, even if it is not, the PAC history is full of ruthlessness and barbarity.

And, when the Kanpur flare up in the aftermath of police action against the agitators who were demonstrating for protesting the burning of Holy Qur'an before the United Nations' office in Delhi recently, newspapers accused PAC of looting the markets while on duty. A preliminary departmental enquiry established the fact and ultimately the State Government had to order suspension of seven PAC jawans.

Political leader including Mr Sriprakaash Jaiswal, the president of U.P Congress Committee said that the action against the PAC vindicates their allegation and a judicial inquiry could reveal much more startling facts.

PAC chief Additional D.G Vijay Shanker (Tewari), in a visit to the city on 27April told reporters that one Company Commander, three head constables and one driver of the 33 Battalion of the PAC, Jhansi were among the PAC men suspended as they were found guilty in primary inquiry and the charges were sustainable. He assured that further investigations of other accusations were going on and stern action would be taken against the guilty cops. The ADG was here to see off PAC Battalions for West Bengal to perform their election-related duties.

The IPS officer, who is likely to be elevated shortly as head of the Central para-military force expressed concern over the loss of trust by the vast majority of Muslims in the impartial functioning of the PAC force and said that "it is a serious matter and efforts should be made at all level to help restore people's faith in the PAC". He admitted that the loss of credibility of the force in the eyes of one large community could hamper its functioning.

Though refuting the accusation that the PAC was a communal force, the PAC chief however said that it was true that the Muslim representation in the huge para military force of over 36,000 was merely 4.34 per cent, a shortcoming which should be corrected in the larger interest. He also stressed the need of a dialogue at every level to help erase the mistrust against the PAC. The PAC had a total of 31 Battalions headed by an IPS as commandant and the strength of each battalion is 1150 men divided under eight Companies.

Primary inquiry had though confirmed the involvement of PAC men in looting of the people's properties while on duty primarily to protect them, an independent inquiry could land the PAC in the dock as they were in the killing spree during the riots. Reports say most of the 20 people killed were victims of the police firing.

In the meantime, however, various Muslims bodies sought to draw the attention of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) towards the plight of the riot victims. Shahar Qazi Maulana Mufti Manzar Ahmed Mazhari and others said that the community was seething under resentment against the attitude of the Kanpur district administration at the behest of the BJP's government in tackling the riots and later providing justice to the victims. They accused that the district police administration was targetting against the members of the minority community.

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