Human Rights

Why only Muslims are targeted by police in cases of violence?

As far as communal violence and police’s partial role in it is concerned it must be admitted that our laws are very good and our police force is capable of bringing riots and violence under control but in spite of all this we have failed in bringing cases like Gujarat riots under control simply because our police officers in spite of being in khaki uniform remain Hindu or Muslim and the men in khaki uniform act with the mentality of ‘we’ and ‘they’. For them Muslims are ‘they’ even now. Police generally think that it is Muslims who start riots and the easy and effective way to control riots is to ‘deal strongly with them’, even in those riots in which Hindus take the initiative police action in most cases is against Muslims. For a common policeman, this thinking is so deep in his mind that generally speaking Muslims are mischief makers and rioters. It is almost impossible for him to believe that any riot can be started by Hindus. To his mind Hindus in general are moderate or non-violent.

I remember that in 1990 when Ram Janmabhoomi movement was very strong, I was posted in Allahabad. I was surprised to see that in police stations secret information against Muslims only were being received at the communal front and news against VHP and such other organisations which were openly spreading communal violence and hatred were very rarely received. I had to take great pains in making my police force understand that under the present circumstances Hindu organisations and not Muslims, should be on our radar. It is not that in India only police is having such mentality, courts too have disappointed us on many occasions. Political leadership has demonstrated lack of that political will which has failed in putting a stop to communalism and communal violence. Those who are well aware of the truth about Indian society agree that riots can erupt anywhere and any time but these can continue for long if the state i.e. ruling class so wants. I strongly believe that if any riot continues for more than 24 hours, enquiry should be made to find out if any wing of the state is complicit in this.

After 1960, in every communal riot police has been accused of partiality and prejudice and those who make such allegations are not Muslims only but people and organisations associated with human rights, independent media, reports of different enquiry commissions etc. If we believe official statistics, in that case also we will find that most of those killed in riots are or were Muslims. To add fuel to fire, police action (arrests etc) is mostly against Muslims i.e. in riots in which Muslims were the biggest sufferers in loss of life and property, mostly Muslims were arrested, maximum searches were made in houses of Muslims. In riots in which among those killed, more than three-fourths were Muslims. In police firings also it is Muslims who are generally killed. That is why Muslims have little faith in police. (Translated from Rashtriya Sahara Urdu, 30 July 2010, by NA Ansari)

*The writer is Former IG Police (Uttar Pradesh)