By sanjay kumar
The recent report “Strategy for making police forces more sensitive towards minority sections” prepared by three directors general of police, Sanjeev Dayal, Deoraj Nagar and K. Ramanujam, could not be more timely. There seems to be a sense of shared anxiety amongst Muslims after the BJP assumed power at the Centre. It is for the Modi government, more so for the home ministry, to act upon some, if not all, of the report’s recommendations which could help build confidence in the BJP among Muslims.
The report concludes that there is a trust deficit as Muslims perceive the police to be communal, biased, insensitive, ill-informed, corrupt and lacking professionalism. Surveys across countries indicate that the level of trust among people in the police is very low, much lower compared to other institutions. In India, the DGPs’ report moves one step further in endorsing such a perception.
Findings from surveys conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) confirm some of the observations in the report by the DGPs. Not only is the level of trust in the police amongst Muslims lower compared to Hindus, it has also declined during the last few years. In a 2009 survey, 21 per cent of Hindu respondents indicated they had no trust in police forces. This perception hardly changed in the next four years. But the proportion of Muslims who reposed faith in the police declined during the same period. In the 2009 survey, 19 per cent among Muslims indicated they had no trust in the police — this went up to 26 per cent in 2013. But this change in perception was largely reflected among urban, upper-class, educated Muslims. Among Muslims living in villages, 24 per cent said they placed no trust in the police ( in comparison, 20 per cent among the Hindus said the same), but the figure corresponded to 29 per cent among Muslims living in towns and cities. While there is hardly any difference in perception between rural and urban Hindus with regard to trust in the police, there is a noticeable difference among Muslims on this question.
Similarly, the level of distrust of the police is higher among Muslims belonging to all economic strata as compared to Hindus in the same economic rungs. The 2013 study indicates that among upper-class Hindus, 17 per cent had no trust in the police while 24 per cent of Muslims in the same economic class expressed the same level of distrust of the police. This figure was even higher among middle-class Muslims (27 per cent) as compared to 17 per cent among lower-class Hindus. The level of distrust among Muslims keeps increasing as one goes down the economic continued…