POLICE FORCE OF INDIA’S CAPITAL CITY IS THE LEAST DEMOCRATIC IN COMPOSITION
Despite nearly 13 per cent share in Delhi’s population, there are only 1,434 Muslims in Delhi Police — only 1.87 per cent of the force. Social activists warn of grave consequences of the policy and culture of ignoring the country’s largest minority community for such jobs
NEW DELHI –– India, the largest democracy in the world, has the least democratic composition when it comes to the police force in its national capital New Delhi. As per the data available, by the end of September 2017, Muslims constituted less than two per cent of the Delhi Police force. Muslims are the largest religious minority of India and constitute about 13 percent of Delhi’s population. As per 2011 Census, there are about 21.5 lakh Muslims in Delhi, which amounts to about 12.85 percent of the city’s total population of 1.67 crore. However, it has a representation of only 1.87 percent in the Delhi Police.
As per the data available on September 30, 2017, of the 76,508 personnel in the Delhi Police only 1,434 were Muslim. Not a single Muslim name came up in the list of 41 Additional Commissioners of Police. Of the 105 Deputy Commissioners of Police, only five are Muslims and of the 223 Assistant Commissioners of Police only one is a Muslim. Even less representation from the community was seen in the ranks of inspectors and constables. Out of 1350 police inspectors, only 15 are Muslim and of 41,226 constables in Delhi, only 679 are Muslims.
However, this trend of poor representation is not visible in the case of other religious minorities. Christian representation in the Delhi Police is almost equal to its population percentage. They form about 0.8 per cent of the total Delhi population and have about a representation of 0.7 per cent in the force. While the Sikhs account for 1.09 per cent representation, which is far less than their 3.39 percent population, Buddhists constitute 0.03 per cent of the police force against their 0.10 percent share of the population.
|Community-wise Break-up of Delhi Population and Delhi Police|
On the other hand, the majority community has a lion’s share in the force; it enjoys a whopping 96.2% share in the police force, 14 per cent more than its share in the capital’s population.
As per the 2011 census, Hindus with a population of 1.37 crore constitute about 81.67 percent of the capital’s population. Out of 76,508 police personnel, 73,611 are Hindu.
Reasons for Low Representation of Muslims
According to the Muslim community of the city, their abysmal representation in the police force is primarily due to religious discrimination and fewer number of applicants from the community.
Talking to Caravan Daily, Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, a former civil servant (IRS retired) and president of Zakat Foundation of India, stated, “Proportionately low percentage of Muslims among the candidates, lower health index and a culture of ignoring Muslims, as the main reasons for a poor representation in the police.”
On the other hand, eminent civil rights activist Shabnam Hashmi held the socio-economic backwardness of the Muslims as the primary reason for the same. She said, “Majority of the Muslims are poor hence their bigger drop-out ratio is much higher than that of any other community. Hence only a small percentage manages to qualify for such post. However, we cannot ignore the discrimination faced by minorities at the entry level.”
Syed Mohammad Raghib, a research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University maintained that very few Muslim youths applied for police exams. Raghib, who actively disseminates the news of vacancies in government department among Muslim youths, said, “Applying and preparing for the examinations are two different things. Lack of good preparation often forces the Muslim applicants to skip exams. Muslims hardly clear PT exam. And this is happening despite the presence of institutes like Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jamia Hamdard.”
Activist Shabnam Hashmi maintained that justice to the marginalised sections is the first toll of a majoritarian police force. She said, “In India, police has been communalised over the years, and thus it has apathy towards the poor, minorities and people from the lower castes. As a result justice is not delivered to the marginalized sections in our country.”
Risks of a less representative police
In a heterogeneous society like that of India, if the police force draws a higher representation from a section of the society then the chances of violation of the democratic rights of the unrepresented sections definitely rises.
“In modern society, police plays a vital role when it comes to the protection of the citizenry. However, often the police often becomes the ruling party’s device to silence the voice of dissent. In such a scenario, if the police has maximum representation from one section of society, it further vitiates the basic democratic rights of those who remain unrepresented,” explained Dr Mahmood, who was the OSD of the Sachar Committee and had played a key role in preparing the historic report, a decade back.
The effect of having a skewed representation of Muslims in Delhi police is well reflected from this simple example – a recent report released by Delhi Minorities Commission indicated that most of the complaints they received were related to harassment by police or them refusing to file first information reports (FIRs).
The Delhi Minorities Commission, in an interview to Caravan Daily earlier this month, stated: “We receive around 2-3 complaints on a daily basis, via email or snail mail. At times they are even sent by hand and all are attended to on the same day. Most complaints are related to police harassment or them refusing to register complaints and FIRs. Other popular complaints are about disbursal of scholarships and fee-reimbursement.”
Most rights activists and intellectuals believe that having an inclusive police force is the most obvious solution to this problem
Shabnam maintained that justice to the marginalised sections is the first toll of a majoritarian police force. She said, “In India, police has been communalised over the years, and thus it has apathy towards the poor, minorities and people from the lower castes. As a result justice is not delivered to the marginalized sections in our country.”
Benefits of an inclusive police
Most rights activists and intellectuals believe that having an inclusive police force is the most obvious solution to this problem. Explaining the same, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission told Caravan Daily, “Minorities, especially the Muslim representation in the police force needs to be increased. As it will not only open avenues for members of the disadvantaged communities but will also inhibit the inbuilt bias present in the police force. Their reluctance to help the disadvantaged is well reflected in their day-to-day behaviour towards the minorities and especially during communal riots.”
Speaking along the same lines, Dr Mahmood, maintained that an increase in Muslim representation in Police force will definitely boost the morale of the community. He added, “There will be ready reason to be fairness in way police deals with cases related to the religious minorities. And the sharp edges of anti-Muslim prejudice will be evened out.”
Elaborating on the benefits, Hashmi felt that a representative police would be more sensitive towards the needs of the community. She added, “It will make it easier for the police if it is representative to get information about any eventualities and take preventive measures.”
For a more representative police
A decade ago, the Sachar Committee had recommended a 10 percent reservation for the community in education and government jobs across the country, but the recommendation was not implemented by the government. So, can the Police force adopt measures to make itself more representative? Dr Khan clearly stated that this can only happen if the government takes a clear policy decision.
“Any change in the representation of the minorities, especially Muslims, in the police force will come as a result of a clear government policy decision which is lacking under the present NDA government. Sadly enough, the previous UPA government was also unclear on it. Some “advice” or “recommendations” will not help. Delhi or any other police cannot do it on its own; it has to be a clear policy decision of the government of the state and the Centre. In Delhi, police is controlled by the Lt. Governor who is an appointee of the Central Government,” explained Dr Khan.
To that Dr Mahmood added, “If at any given point of time a police force parochially represents only one section, it shouldn’t be expected to volunteer an internal change towards benevolence.”
Steps that should be taken
However, he did have certain suggestions which could increase the Muslim representation in the police. He said, “Preparatory camps in Muslims pockets on the eve of every recruitment can help Muslim youths crack the entrance exam. That apart, sensitisation of special preparatory camps existing police personnel would be equally helpful to all the people without any parochial considerations.”
Hashmi suggested: “Coaching centres for police recruitment exams to prepare Muslims and other marginalised communities and offering incentives to youths who get enrolled for police forces can boost the percentage representation.”
According to her, making recruitment process transparent and corruption free would be an added bonus. “A diversity index of the police personnel should be maintained and encouraged,” she added.
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