Jayanth Jacob, Indian Express
Monday, November 27, 2006
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 26: In the midst of the debate over the state of Muslims in the country, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has asked the Home Ministry to ensure a fair representation of religious minorities in the police and paramilitary forces. It wants the ministry to make the necessary provisions to meet this objective in the new Police Act.
Going a step further, the minorities panel has suggested that a way must be found to ensure that people with “bias against religious minorities” should not be part of the recruitment process. Such screening, the NCM feels, should also be factored into the promotions system.
More significantly, the NCM has suggested that the punishment for “dereliction” of duty during “communal disturbance” must be immediate dismissal from service.
These recommendations seek to address the inadequate representation of religious minorities, particularly Muslims, in the police and the paramilitary forces. NCM sources point out that police forces of states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have hardly any Muslim representation.
Muslim organisations grappling with this issue have on earlier occasions urged the Centre to at least adopt the the BC Roy model. As CM of West Bengal, he had posted a Muslim inspector with a non-Muslim additional inspector or vice-versa in police stations covering areas of Muslim concentration.
It is not the first time that the NCM has raised this issue. Poor representation of religious minorities in the police force have been mentioned in earlier NCM reports, but this is the first time concrete suggestions have been made to address the problem.
“The force should be broadly representative of the people they police and to ensure that the forces should have more members from the minorities communities in its rolls,” National Commission for Minorities chairman Hamid Ansari said, adding that the forces should be “professionally managed and run” and lambasted the Gujarat administration in dealing with the post-Godhra riots.
However, former UP DGP Prakash Singh, who filed a PIL in SC regarding police reforms, says that the community should introspect and take measures to “shed” the “animus” to join the forces. “There is a educational backwardness among the Muslims and due to which very few people apply for the jobs, and other community members outsmart them in the competitive tests”.