A While reading the newspaper, an item in it drew me into a debate with my muse. Uninvited, she popped through my thoughts and demanded that I discus this particular piece at length. So I began by explaining the news to her.
I: The Central government now wants Muslim cops in Muslim-dominated areas.
My muse: Why? How come the sudden bright idea?
I: It was a recommendation of the Sachar Committee report.
My muse: Oh, and when was this recommendation made?
I: In November 2006. Why do you ask?
My muse: Then, what is the great hurry almost five and a half years later?
I: Oh I don’t know. The Union home secretary has written to all chief secretaries of states to implement the recommendation and submit a status report by the end of this June.
My muse: So here we have another category of transfers added; husband-wife cases, overstaying, medical grounds, physically challenged and now Muslims for Muslim-dominated areas.
I: So? What are you getting at?
My muse: What if a Muslim cop does not want to be posted to Muslim-dominated area? And are there so many Muslim cops?
I: When the government has woken up to the need for protection of Muslims, why are you nagging away and finding petty drawbacks?
My muse: Sorry to nag. But what does the government hope to achieve by posting a single Muslim cop in a Muslim-dominated area?
I: It is a confidence-building measure. The Muslim cop will be more approachable to his community fellows and he will understand the nuances of their sensibilities, their situation and he will have empathy for them.
My muse: Oh! You mean to say he should empathise with criminals too. And pray, what is the difference between a Muslim criminal and a Hindu criminal or a Christian one or a Buddhist one or…?
I: Hold it! Hold it! Don’t go on and on. It’s just that the government feels that if a Muslim cop is there in a Muslim locality, people, I mean Muslims, will feel protected and will have confidence that the police station is not against them.
My muse: And what can a single cop do in a police station to help the Muslims? And what will the other cops be doing?
I: You saw what happened in Gujarat? And you know what the general perception is about the role of cops during communal riots?
My muse: Oh! Is this single cop expected to run around protecting all the Muslims in the locality he is posted at? And what will the other cops be doing? Will they be cleaning and oiling their rifles and polishing their belts, buckles and shoes to do the drill?
I: (In exasperation) What exactly do you want? When the government makes some effort you crib? When it does not you cry? What is it exactly that you want the government to do?
My muse: No! No! I am very happy. The government declares holidays for Eid Meelad, and now posts a Muslim cop in Muslim areas. I truly appreciate the government’s concerns for its minorities. And I do appreciate that though Sacharji wanted this to happen in 2006 it has written letters now. The government was perhaps reading the committee’s recommendations till now.
I: (As I had no answer to the muse’s wisecracks, I grumble) Okay smart pants, now you tell me what would you do to implement the report and build confidence among Muslims so that they are brought to the mainstream.
My muse: I will ask you questions and you answer them?
I: (brightening and thinking, I will have you now fellow) Yes shoot!
My muse: Why is there no confidence in the Hindu policemen following the rule of law? Has the Home department taken steps to sensitise the general cop, be it Hindu or Muslim or any other, regarding the protection of the Muslims as citizens of this nation along with any other citizen? Does the government want to create a divide even among the bureaucracy on the basis of religion? What about the implementation of the other aspects of the Sachar report that will ultimately obviate such segregative requirements?
I was stumped for answers.