New Delhi: Indian Muslims are harassed, victimized, targetted by police and forced to live under continuous fear, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) says in ts report prepared jointly with Quill Foundation, Delhi and released last week.
The 50-page report titled "Muslim Voices: Perception of Policing in India" says: “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.”
The report, jointly authored by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) led by former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and QUILL, is based on interactions with 25 retired Muslim police personnel and 197 community members in eight cities — Ahmedabad, Ranchi, Delhi, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Kozhikode, and Mumbai.
The report also found that Muslims feel further alienated and insecure while approaching the police for any remedy as the "display of Hindu religious symbols" and "pujas" performed inside the station "cement the fact that there is no place for their grievance to be heard."
"There are pictures and idols (of Hindu gods) in police vehicles too. Such display of religious symbols make us feel alienated. We now see policemen applying tilaks. These practices of applying tilaks have increased in the last two years," a Mumbai-based respondent said adding that the practice of policemen wearing tilaks have increased in the last two to three years.
The participants also feel that the police is attempting to divide the community by placing informers within the community.
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.
"It is overbearingly important to assess the response of the Muslim community to day-to-day living and livelihood, and the role of the police. Does the police give them a sense of security? Or is the opposite? If it is the latter, the police are not doing their job", Wajahat Habibullah said while addressing an event organised to release the report.
Quoting from the report Dr. Zafar ul Islam Khan, chairperson of the Delhi Minority Commission, while addressing the event said, "They say that if the hovt wants to establish a school, they will do it in a majority-dominated areas. But, if they wish to set up a police station, they will do it in a Muslim area."
K Ramanujan, Ex-DG of Tamil Nadu, in his speech said, "Perception is reciprocal. If the police perceives the Muslim community as a threat, chances are the members of the community will feel this and perceive the police as a threat as well."