Immediately after the Samajwadi Party’s landslide-win in the 2012 state assembly polls, the police department had moved a proposal to improve the poor Muslim representation in the state’s 1.87 lakh strong police force.
Sixteen months on, a fresh proposal has been moved to induct two Muslim policemen in each of the 1409 police stations, including 68 government railway police (GRP) of Uttar Pradesh.
The move comes on the back of criticism faced by the ruling party for doing little for the minorities, despite getting overwhelming support of the community in the polls.
At present, sources say, the Muslim representation in the state police force is around 10,000. Principal secretary (home) RM Srivastava wasn’t available for comment even as sources suggested that the move was for real.
Officially, there weren’t any confirmations. “How can anyone confirm a move that isn’t good for the health of the force,” former director general of police IC Dwivedi said.
The timing—Lok Sabha polls are less than a year away –as indeed the pattern to induct and post men along religious lines in the police force has drawn sharp criticism on the ground that it would “politicise an already politicized force.”
Muslims have always been sceptical of the state-owned and what they called the Hindu dominated Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC).
Some retired police officers felt highlighting the religion of a police personnel should be avoided.
“This is very sad. You cannot have police personnel on caste and religious lines,” former DGP Vikram Singh, now serving as a vice chancellor with a private Noida-based university, told HT.
The Samajwadi Party had come to power in UP, promising to implement the recommendations made by the Sachar committee in 2006 in which it had pointed out poor representation of Muslims in various government services and recommended placing Muslim officers at top positions in those police stations of the region where the minority population may be high.
The move, the committee felt, would help boost the confidence of the community.
The Congress-led UPA government at the centre too had written to all the state governments in 2012 about ensuring higher representation of Muslims in the police force. The Bharatiya Janata Party is up in arms against the reported move.
“This is against the basic tenets of the constitution. How can you promote religion in the force? We are going to oppose the move which is nothing more than another attempt by this government to showcase its pro-Muslim character for poll gains,” said BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
Congress MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh also suspected politics behind the move.