Riots: Communal bias taints police, PAC
Anti-minority and casteist mindsets mark behaviour of personnel, with such far-reaching consequences as massacres, says ex-IGP SR Darapuri
Pradeep Kapoor Lucknow
It is the communal mindset of the police and the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) officers, who readily implemented directives from higher authorities, that is responsible for the massacre of Muslim youths in Hashimpura on May 22, 1987, according to SR Darapuri, former Inspector General, Police, and now a Dalit activist. Darapuri finds it difficult to believe that Hashimpura was the handiwork of junior officers. At that time, he was posted as SP, Economic Offences Wing, in Varanasi and even there it was being said that orders emanating from political authorities were willingly implemented by communal-minded officers.
Darapuri said no junior officer would indulge in a massacre of such magnitude without orders from seniors. He said it was shocking that not a single officer was arrested and even though some of them were suspended, the orders were revoked. Surprisingly, there was no mention of the incident in the ACR of any officer, revealed Darapuri.
“Instead of taking action the government gave promotions to the officers who were posted in the area and involved in the crime,” he said. According to him, the entire cover-up to protect senior officers was done by the state as well as central governments.
“When Hashimpura happened, officers like me were hurt and it was a matter of shame for the entire police force,” Darapuri said. Talking about the investigation and the CB CID, he said it appeared that it was carried out to save certain persons in the police and PAC rather than to nab culprits. He pointed out that it was easy to nail the culprits through the record of deployment of police vehicles and by matching the bullets that killed or injured people with the weapons of the police.
He said the callousness of the successive governments of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BJP and BSP was evident from the fact that they never made public the reports of Justice Srivastav on Maliana and of the Gyan Prakash Committee on Hashimpura.
Talking about the communalisation of the police and the PAC, Darapuri said that during his posting in the latter for 11 years he had observed communal behaviour among senior officers as well as junior officers which was reflected during the discussions and the use of force during riots through arrests and destruction of property of minorities.
Darapuri said that the behaviour of the PAC and the police in any riots made minorities believe that the personnel were acting against them. He pointed out that SC Dixit, after retiring as DGP, led the VHP movement in Ayodhya during the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. What he would have done for the cause while in the police is anybody’s guess, said Darapuri.
Similarly, a large number of police officers were responsible for setting up temples in police lines – which showed the communal character of the force.
Darapuri said that lack of representation from minorities is also responsible for the communalisation of the police and the PAC. He said efforts should be made by the Muslim community as well as by the government to increase representation of minorities in the police and PAC.
Communal bias is also reflected in dealing with terrorists. Darapuri said that he had found out that, in the name of tackling terrorism, a large number of people from the minority community had been imprisoned in UP. Although the state government announced that all innocent persons would be released, no proper action was taken.
In addition, said Darapuri, the police as well as the PAC suffer from casteist thinking. This is evident in postings and promotions and the day-to-day behaviour of senior and junior officers.
During his posting in 1976 in Gorakhpur, said Darapuri, he noticed that junior officials from lower castes ate sitting on the ground while those of higher castes occupied cemented benches. There was also a separate arrangement for serving food to people from lower castes in the police officers’ mess.
Darapuri said that Dalits were not appointed as cooks in the police or PAC. High-caste officers made sure that no lower-caste person was posted for any duty at the residences of high-caste officers.