New Delhi: What is that one huge common thing you tend to come across all states between the Indian Muslims and the Police?
It is the constant presence of ‘multi-layered bias’ against the Muslim community.
In a recent 50-page report released by former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and QUILL, this is the one particular thing that is the several layers of bias all Muslims face in our nation at the hands of the police force.
In total, nearly 197 participants across Ahmedabad, Ranchi, Delhi, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Kozhikode, and Mumbai attended the consultation held for the report. The vast majority of these women and men were Muslims.
A total 256 retired Muslim police personnel were interviewed too by the CHRI.
The report notes an important finding that the Indian police usually targets, victimise Muslims based on their identity.
This distinct bias is a constant threat to Muslim community as it is “resulting in feelings that the community is often criminalised without basis, and kept in cycles of fear, intimidation, and the constant threat of being detained and abused”.
What is surprising is that the Police usually knows that a Muslim in most of the cases in not the accused they are looking for but torturing them is often too much reveals a confession of a police officer.
Muslim women on the other hand bear the ‘double burden’ of being a Muslim and a woman, according to the report.
Muslim Women distinctly feel their identity as Muslims itself was a primary reason for both “police indifference and bias towards them.”
“(The policemen) disregard us if they find out that we have come from a Muslim-dominated area, sometimes even threatening us that we will be beaten if we don’t leave. Once, they said, “burqa nikalo, kya bomb leka aaye ho kya? (Take off your veil; have you brought a bomb here?)”, said one of the interviewed Muslim women from Ahmedabad.
The report state that Muslims feel insecure when they approach the police for any remedy or solution as the “display of Hindu religious symbols” and “pujas” performed inside the police station indicates that there is no place for their grievance to be heard.
Over the past three years, the practice of policemen wearing Tilaks to work has increased said a Mumbai-based respondent.
“There are pictures and idols (of Hindu gods) in police vehicles too. Such display of religious symbols make us feel alienated. We now see policemen applying tilaks. These practices of applying tilaks have increased in the last two years,” said the respondent.
With all this now openly happening against the community, the report has urged the Parliament to enact torture prevention legislation and also implement the Amendment of the Presidential Orders of 1950 and 1951 to include Dalit Muslims.
CHRI and QUILL have also recommended that Equal Opportunity Commission bill as drafted by the expert group appointed by Ministry of Minority Affairs should not be delayed to be presented before the parliament.