For a state that has nearly 30 per cent minority population, West Bengal does not have enough representation of Muslims in the police forces leading to a trust deficit between the community and the administration, a retired IPS officer has said.
Nazrul Islam, a former IPS officer of West Bengal cadre, said he shares the same perception that a report by three DGPs – Sanjeev Dayal of Maharashtra, Deoraj Nagar of Uttar Pradesh and K Ramanujam of Tamil Nadu – has thrown.
“At present, Bengal has 30 per cent minority population, which is pretty high in terms of the all India scenario and in terms of other states. However, we do not see any reflection of this population ratio in the police force of the state. Starting from the rank of constables to the IPS cadre, there are handful of people in the force who belong to the Muslim community,” Islam who retired as an ADG said.
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Islam, quoting some in-depth studies over crime patterns, and analysed that “around 45 per cent criminals who are lodged in jails in Bengal are Muslims”. “In Murshidabad, Muslim population is 63.7 per cent. But, crime records bureau states that 90 per cent of the criminals lodged in Murshidabad jail are Muslims. This is a big divide,” he said.
The retired IPS said that there is a “common perception (in the police force)” that a “Muslim courier of Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) from a small village is essentially a member of a terrorist organization”. “This outlook of the police force needs to be changed. At times, uneducated and poor Muslims are targeted by crime syndicates,” he said, adding Bengal has never had a Muslim home minister.
“When I was in service, there were not more than seven Muslim IPS officers out of a total of 233. At the constable and force level too, not more than 5 to 7 per cent are Muslims,” he added.
Retired Bengal DGP Bhupinder Singh too advocated for a “proportionate representation of Muslims in the force to reduce the “trust deficit.” “If the government wants to reduce the trust deficit, then there has to be a proportionate number of Muslim police personnel in the force. And it would bring a fellow feeling too. Earlier, in the barracks, I had seen that there used to be different mess for Muslims and Hindus, which never happens in BSF or in Army. If a force cannot eat together, then how can it be expected to work together?” asked Singh.
In Bengal, there are many instances when the perpetrator as well as the victim of a crime are both Muslims, he said, adding that it often happens in districts like Malda and Murshidabad districts where there is a high percentage of Muslim population. “But when we used to recruit constables, we hardly found Muslims appearing for the tests. The community should come forward to increase their participation too,” Singh added.
Former commissioner of Kolkata Police, Tushar Talukdar ruled out any necessity for “community policing” to bridge the gap between Muslims and the police force. “I never understood the meaning of community policing. Police force is not meant to build a social relationship with a particular community or to run a charity. The force is only supposed to do policing. But at present the police officers wait for orders from their political bosses to arrest a criminal, to take action when a communal situation erupts. Political interference in policing is responsible for developing a trust deficit between the force and community,” said Talukdar.