Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Police, minorities and perception management

HOW MUSLIMS PERCEIVE THE POLICE: Internal police report underscores police-community gap, recommends comprehensive community policing, improving interface levels with minorities. Source: CR Sasikumar Internal police report underscores police-community gap, recommends comprehensive community policing, improving interface levels with minorities. (Source: CR Sasikumar)
Written by Smita Nair | Mumbai | Posted: July 17, 2014 12:45 am | Updated: July 17, 2014 8:28 am

A survey done in a southern state, key inputs from three states with sizeable Muslim populations, and intelligence from state police chiefs — all put together by three officers of the rank of director general of police (DGP) — in 2013, speak of a situation wherein the entrenched perception of a police bias against the minority community could, if not corrected immediately, affect the country’s internal security.

The report, prepared by the DGPs of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and a senior IB official, is now with the central government, awaiting action.

The report is a summary and compilation of police and intelligence inputs received from states across India, along with the content of interactions with the community, public utterances by community leaders, and articles published by them.

To bridge the “police-community” gap, the report recommends implementation of a comprehensive “community policing plan”, improving “interface levels” between the Muslim community and police, improving and encouraging “participative policing”, and developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent communal riots.

HISTORY, SOCIAL MEDIA AND ACTIVISM

The report begins with an analysis of the wounds of Partition which, it says, “poisoned the relations between the two communities, leaving both suspicious of each other”. The scars were deepest in northern India, and the Ram Shilanyas Yatras and Ramjanmabhoomi agitation also “communalised otherwise peaceful parts of South and East India”, thus polarising the entire country, it says.

“The razing of the Ram Janam Bhoomi/Babri Mosque disputed structure saw communal riots erupting in most of the country. The use of terror as a retribution for the demolition and communal riots that followed the demolition further sharpened the conflict. Communal riots after Godhara were a watershed event.”

According to the report, “any place with a minority population above 15 per cent has become communally surcharged and susceptible to communal riots.” Police attitudes haven’t helped either, it says.

“Revolution in communications and information technology”, the report says, “are being exploited by various groups in various communities to spread discontent in the minorities by use of social media and mobile telephony to spread information of perceived wrong to community anywhere leading to tensions in other far flung areas.”

Attacks on students from the Northeast in various parts of the country, allegedly in retaliation for attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam, are examples, the report says.

The report is critical of the role played by some NGOs and “activists”, and of media “hungry for news” in spreading “distrust” among minorities. The police, it says, lack an official mechanism to counter this “propaganda”.

“Role of NGOs and some ‘activists’ in spreading distrust about law enforcement agencies have also come to light. An active media hungry for making news has eagerly projected the views of such groups, lending credence to their statements continued…

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