Muslims feel there is bias in policing, says report

As soon as a policeman sees a woman in a burqa or a hijab, he refuses to entertain her, and asks her to sit and wait. Her turn never comes. In fact, the waiting period turns into an hour, then two hours and so on, said one of the respondents of a survey titled ‘Muslim Voices: Perceptions of Policing in India’.

The survey report was released by The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Quill Foundation on Friday and documents the perceptions and experiences of Muslims regarding policing in India across eight cities. The study behind the report focused on the central question of how the Muslim community perceives policing, as well as bias and discrimination by the police.

Lack of trust

The report stated that several respondents said that they do not trust the police to protect their physical or legal rights, and in fact, there is an overwhelming feeling that the Muslims are harassed, victimised and targeted by the police based on their distinct identity.

“There is a unanimous perception that the police targets and victimises Muslims, resulting in feelings that the community is often criminalised without basis, and kept in cycles of fear, intimidation, and the constant threat of being detained and abused,” stated the report.

It also pointed out that Muslim women feel an extra burden as police attitude and behaviour is sharply prejudiced when women access the police wearing identity markers like burqa/hijab.

The report added that display of Hindu religious practices and symbols in police stations are perceived with apprehension, discomfort, and elicit marginalisation.

“There was unanimous acknowledgement of the presence of Hindu religious symbols – often temples – inside police stations, and the overt practice of religion by police officers while on duty. Respondents shared that this open display, in an official space meant to serve all the people of India, trigger apprehension and feelings of subjugation as a minority,” said the report.

The report also contains insights from retired Muslim police officers based on their experiences from within the police force. The CHRI said that after the launch of the report, it would be used to make recommendations to governments, police departments, and independent bodies for acknowledging bias and discrimination, as well as for ways to improve relations between Muslim communities and the police.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 9:03:36 AM |

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