The Mumbai police are all set to launch yet another combing operation — but of a different kind.
Commissioner of Police D Sivanandhan has ordered all 89 police stations across Mumbai to scout for Muslim youth who can be trained to join the police force.
The idea is to raise the percentage of Muslims in the force to at least 10 per cent from the present 4 — about 1,600 Muslim police personnel in the 40,000-strong force.
“We have already identified 189 men and 29 women who will be trained for pre-selection. They will then proceed for final selection,” said Sivanandhan.
As a large number of police informers belong to the community, it would help the local police to build trust within the community and strengthen their informer base.
“Young informers from the minority community often feel that they are being used by the police,” said Senior Inspector Deepak Kathkade, of the Juhu police station.
“However if regular informers meet the criteria and are absorbed [into the force], it will strengthen the force,”
There have been initiatives in the past by private organisations and even the state minorities body to train the youth for the public services.
However, this is the first such initiative by the Mumbai police.
Sivanandhan has instructed senior officers to identify prospective Muslim candidates with help from local mohalla ekta committees and other religious and social groups.
Muslim youth who have passed Class 12 and meet the required physical criteria will undergo a nine-month programme at the police training school, the order said.
The training will be followed by written and physical examinations to choose successful candidates.
Maulana Mustaqim Azmi, president of the Jamait-e-Ulema Hind’s Maharashtra chapter, said: “It’s a welcome move but I am apprehensive about its effective implementation.”
Though unsure about the number of youth who will come forward to participate in this drive, officials feel the number could run into more than 100 in police stations located in Muslim-dominated areas.
Almost 50 per cent of the 3 lakh population at Nagpada are Muslims. But of the 200 policemen at the Nagpada police station, only one officer and eight constables are Muslims.
Mohammed Tariq (24), an aspiring police officer, seemed keen. “Terrorism in Punjab was contained mostly by Sikh officers,” he said. “Similarly, the country needs Muslim police personnel to combat terrorism.”
However, those who have had bitter experiences in the past are sceptical.
Anees Deshmukh, a 35-year-old merchant navy officer from Deonar, wanted to join the police force in 1994 — a year after the serial blasts. But the interview left him cynical.
“I was asked questions like ‘Who planted the bombs in the city?’ and ‘Don’t you have police service in Pakistan?’,” Deshmukh said. “It was a humiliating experience which I can’t forget.”
He labelled the initiative as “lip-service” and a move to appease minorities because Assembly polls are nearing.