Communal statements by politicians can make the police’s job much more difficult during elections

Patrolling in the run-up to the elections is always a daunting task for the police as crowd management and checking code of conduct violations are added to the usual law and order challenges. Some officers believe that irresponsible and communally sensitive statements could only complicate the situation and make the environment volatile.

Recent statements made by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Ramesh Bidhuri and Vijay Kumar Malhotra allegedly linking a section of the Muslim community with terrorism have the potential to alienate the community. While Mr. Bidhuri reportedly accused the Congress of being soft on Pakistan because “they think that Muslims in India still relate to Muslims in Pakistan”, Mr. Malhotra had earlier referred to some Muslim-dominated areas of the Capital as “hub of terror”. Both issued clarifications (denial in Mr. Bidhuri’s case) and sought to withdraw their comments. But some police officers see such statements as another exercise of witch hunting.

For instance, Mr. Malhotra made the statements immediately after the arrests of alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives. One of the areas he mentioned was Jamia Nagar, where people were already angry with the police for picking up their local young men for questioning.

The police believe that though most people are wise enough to understand that such statements are aimed at scoring political points, rumour mongers could also take advantage.

The police round the year make efforts to engage people and especially encourage the residents’ welfare associations to come forward for inclusive policing. Such statements could mean that the confidence building measures have to be started all over again. A short-term political gain could mean long-term pain for the law-enforcing agency, much to their dislike.

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