Before registering a case - be it against a right wing leader or an MIM representative - the police have fallen into the habit of assessing the consequences on the law and order situation.
Hate speeches by religious and political leaders are not new to the State capital. So is the reluctance of the law enforcement agencies to act against those making them. The often slow and knee-jerk reaction from police too is familiar. The latest instance of registration of cases against MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi has indeed sparked a debate on the manner in which police in the Sate capital handled such instances on earlier occasions.
Controversial statements by representatives of right-wing organisations and some MIM leaders during religious or public events in the city had been reported many a time. Old city being communally sensitive and the MIM having a stronghold there, police had apparently preferred to adopt a cautious approach in ensuring that their “actions would not embarrass the political bosses” in general and the MIM at the field level.
It is these political calculations and the possible outcome of a police action that had weighed down police officers, and gradually an eco system was built up over a period of time. This comfort zone created in this eco system had gradually become so ossified that it would guide the first responder – the field level officer empowered to register a case – to ignore his basic duty and water down the response. Before registering a case - be it against a right wing leader or an MIM representative - the police have fallen into the habit of assessing the consequences it will have on the law and order situation. There is also no uniform practice or standard adopted by policemen in dealing with such cases. Officers got used to this so much so that they began to believe that this ‘inaction’ was an effective tool to buy peace in old city or as an effective tool in maintaining peace in communally sensitive areas.
“There is no denying how we dealt with communal elements and those making hate speeches depended on the ruling party’s political equations,” police officials agree in private conversations. The Special Branch sleuths will certainly keep a tab on all religious and political events to get first-hand information about what is being spoken and how the crowds react.
But only in a few instances their reports on the need to prosecute the persons making hate speeches were heeded to.