West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday grappled with one of India’s thorniest law-enforcement issues: police versus minorities, taking their respective positions largely in that order.
The relationship between police and ethnic minorities poses one of the more serious problems in policing in many parts of the world. In India, Muslims generally perceive the police to be biased against them.
At a two-day brainstorm of the National Commission for Minorities, Narayanan, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, admitted to this “problematic relationship” but sought a sympathetic understanding of the policeman’s job. Khurshid, however, sought a more human approach from not just policemen but even judicial officers.
Both, however, agreed that there was a need to bridge a gaping “trust deficit” by recruiting more minorities into police organisations.
Anti-terror policing has seriously alienated India’s largest minority community, especially because many Muslims have often been found innocent, often after being held in prison for years. “There can be no justification for police over-zealousness but the minorities commission should not be merely judgmental,” Narayanan said. Khurshid, however, said, “Law requires proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
Narayanan, a former National Security Advisor, however cautioned the police against stereotyping Muslims by equating them with criminals.