Union Home Secretary R K Singhs announcement in early June that the government has approved the 2005 Rajinder Sachar Committees recommendation of deploying at least one Inspector or Sub-Inspector (SI),who is a Muslim,in each police station in Muslim-majority areas has put the Delhi Police in a spot because they dont have the requisite numbers to implement the directive.
When his comments were sought before he retired on June 30 as Delhi Police Commissioner,B K Gupta said the system was already in place in the Capital and there have been efforts to deploy at least one Muslim Inspector or SI at all police stations in key Muslim-majority areas.
But they have been finding it tough to get adequate number of personnel and officers to fully implement the Sachar panels guidelines because Muslim youth hardly apply for jobs in police.
The representation of Muslims is not satisfactory. I wanted to motivate them to join us. The community feels at ease with them. That is why we have IPS officers Taj Hassan (Joint CP) and Aslam Khan (Additional DCP) in Central district, said Gupta.
Even before the government accepted the Sachar Committee recommendation on police reforms,the MHA had asked the Delhi Police to conduct a census of Muslim officers in each district. The feedback prepared by the DCPs were sent to police headquarters to make a final report.
The MHA has also directed police departments across the country to submit a report on the status of implementation of the order by June-end.
Official records reveal that Muslims form just 1.8 per cent of the Delhi Polices total strength 1,500 out of 83,000 policemen are from the community. The numbers dwindle as the ranks go higher the force has just one JCP and four Additional DCPs.
There is no Muslim officer in the ranks of Special Commissioner of Police and DCPs. Not a single Muslim has made it to the police chiefs post since the commissioner system was started in New Delhi in 1978.
Most senior officers said the abysmally low Muslim representation could be attributed to the fact that very few youth from the community apply for jobs in police,compared to its population.
Special Commissioner of Police (Administration) B S Bassi said the Delhi Police had never received enough applications from Muslim youth for jobs.
Though police cannot go out of the way to persuade Muslim youth to join the force,steps have been taken at the grassroots level to encourage them,he said.
Additional CP (Southeast) Ajay Chaudhary recently started a coaching class in the Jamia Nagar area to help students overcome inhibitions,if any,to sit for police recruitment exams. Though not all the students in his class are Muslims,he said,he was happy that the majority of them belong the community.
With the help of an NGO,Shikhar,we have started capsule courses,mostly for Muslims. This will help them during Delhi Police,BEd and DIET (District Institute of Education and Training) exams. A library has been set up for them at the Jamia Nagar police station, Chaudhary said.
Despite the recommendation,the jury is still out on how Muslim officers could instill confidence in the community.
Additional CP (Central) D C Srivastava,posted in an area which has the highest Muslim population in the city,said it was a good move. A Muslim officer in Central Delhi can become the bridge between police and the people. The community feels more confident dealing with an officer belonging to the same faith. This perception of safety generates confidence, Srivastava said.
Chaudhary seconded his views. Though there were no Muslim inspector in Southeast Delhi,there have been enough sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors, he said.
Even youngsters feel free to go up to the Muslim officers and speak about their problems, Chaudhary said.
There were voices against the move,too. Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma said: The intention to deploy Muslim officers implies that there is a lack of faith in officers of other religions. A more responsible and impartial officer is a better option.
He said: A hardworking police officer who sticks to the law and gives a patient hearing is the need of the hour.
However,he agreed that there were exceptions. When he was SSP Aligarh,Sharma had deployed a Muslim sub-inspector at the police post in Aligarh Muslim University. He dealt with the boys and the staff in AMU quite well. Still not many Muslim officers have succeeded in communally-sensitive areas, he said.
Additional DCP (IGIA) Irshad Haider,too,felt that religion of an officer has nothing to do when it comes to serving the public. Haider was previously posted in the Muslim-majority Seemapuri area in Northeast Delhi.
It is professional competence that matters. Respect is earned through hard work,not religion, Haider said.
But Sharma and Haider said that in handling sensitive cases such as the Karbala issue,religion of an officer could play an important role during negotiations between two communities.