Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat

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Disturbing Trends: Police System


1.1. The Tribunal has looked at a lot of evidence on trends in police behaviour especially related to communal riots.

1.2. Findings and recommendations of several officially appointed judicial commissions of inquiry appointed by various state and central governments to probe into communal violence, the report of the National Integration Council and the sixth report of the National Police Commission have all indicted the police for partisan behaviour towards religious minorities and Dalits in particular and have made recommendations to check this disturbing fact.

1.3. This disturbing trend has become more acute in recent years thanks to the unchecked politics of intolerance pursued by the Sangh Parivar.

1.3.1. Justice Shiv Dayal Srivastava’s report on the riots in Jabalpur, Sagar, Damoh and Narasinhapur (MP), February 1961, comments adversely on the laxity in investigation. (See Detailed Annexures, Volume III).

1.3.2. The Justice Raghubar Dayal Commission of Inquiry into the 1967 riots in Ranchi, Sholapur, Malegaon, Ahmednagar, Sursand, Jaipur and Suchetpur found the conduct of the police to be far from satisfactory.

1.3.3. The Justice Jagmohan Reddy Commission of Inquiry investigating the Ahmedabad riots of 1969 has cited more than half a dozen instances where Muslim religious places adjoining police lines or police stations were attacked or damaged. The argument advanced by the police officers that because they were busy quelling riots at various other places, these police stations were shorn of adequate strength and hence these attacks on religious places could not be stopped, did not impress the Commission. It made this observation because not a single Hindu place of worship near a police station was reported to the Commission as having been damaged or destroyed.

1.3.4. Report of the Justice DP Madon Commission of Inquiry into the Communal Disturbances at Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mahad in May, 1970: "Several instances have been proved before the Commission in which police officers and policemen either did not prevent Hindu rioters from indulging in rioting, looting or arson, or showed communal discrimination in dealing with the rioting mobs, or gave incorrect information to the control room or lodged incorrect FIRs, in order to make out that the persons who had rioted or were responsible for looting or arson in particular incidents were Muslim rioters not Hindu, or actively assisted Hindu rioters in burning and looting Muslim properties." (See Detailed Annexures, Volume III). The commission’s comments on the Special Investigation Squad of Bhiwandi: "The working of the Special Investigation Squad is a study in communal discrimination."

1.3.5. Report of the Commission of Inquiry, Tellicherry Disturbance, 1971, Justice (retd) Joseph Vithyathil: "236.Through the evidence of the deputy SP, he says that while on patrol duty he had to curb many among his rank and file who could not restrain themselves when they met Muslims on the road. Similar evidence was given by the sub-collector and other witnesses who have testified saying that while chasing away some Muslims many policemen yelled at them to go to Pakistan. At Mattambaram one or two of them got into the mosque and besides beating Usmakutty Haji, a very respectable person, broke the tube-light and chandeliers in the mosque. There is nothing to show that there was any justification for this action… I am inclined to think that this was a high-handed act done by some policemen who made use of the opportunity to exhibit their anti-Muslim feelings."

1.3.6. Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Jamshedpur riots in April 1979, by Justice J Narain, Shri SK Ghosh and Shri SQ Rizvi: "During the course of inquiry by the commission there were wide-ranging complaints regarding the anti-Muslim behaviour of the Bihar Military Police(BMP)… the facts and circumstances of the attack on the Muslim basti did give rise to the suspicion that deliberate or otherwise, firing by the police on the Hindus had no effect. Not a single Hindu could be identified as having been injured or killed as a result of 108 rounds fired by the BMP in this area over a period of 24 hours; this couples with the fact that when the Hindu attacking mob had been driven away from the area, 9 Muslims were found dead in their own homes… The Commission feels that the composition, training discipline and leadership in the BMP leaves much to be desired…"

1.3.7.. Inquiry report on Meerut Riots, September-October 1982, by Shri NC Saxena, former director, Indian Institute of Administration, Mussourie, to the central Minorities Commission of which he was joint secretary: "As regards the first act of violence which led to the riots, the district administration tried to give an impression that the riots broke out in Meerut town because the Pujari of the disputed temple in mohalla Shahgasa was murdered on September 6, 1982. The aggressiveness of the Hindus, unlawful activities of the Hindu communal group and police inaction prior to the murder of the Pujari was not highlighted in either the reports of the district administration or in the national newspapers… Right from the beginning the district administration saw the communal riot as instigated by the Muslims and the Hindu action as retaliation and therefore chose to take stern action against Muslims only… The orders from the senior officers in the district to the police could be summarised in one phrase, ‘Muslims must be taught a lesson’. The PAC and the police faithfully implemented this policy. Looting and arson, in this context, was considered legitimate and necessary, and was therefore ignored. The district administration was very keen to retain the PAC in the district and bitterly opposed suggestions for getting it replaced by CRPF or BSF."

1.3.8. The Report (majority) of the Commission of Inquiry into the Bhagalpur Riots of October 1989, signed by Justices RCP Sinha and S Shamsul Hasan and published in 1995, said: "The role of magistracy was no different from that of the police. In general they were cowardly, communal and indifferent to the sufferings of the common man… Admittedly hordes of Hindus, the number going up to thousands, attacked the localities and villages of Muslim inhabitants, but nobody was arrested in the process of attacking an area... From the officers to ordinary police constables, and the smaller functionaries of the administration, barring a few exceptions, they were totally infected with an anti-Muslim bias. This is evident from the fact that every unlawful act succeeded, totally uninterrupted by any administrative interference except in one or two cases… We would hold the SP of Bhagalpur, KS Dwivedi wholly responsible for whatever happened before October 24, 1989, on that day and after October 24. His communal bias was fully demonstrated by the manner in which he arrested Muslims and by his extending no adequate protection to them."

1.3.9. Report of the J Ranganath Misra Commission of Inquiry into the 1984 riots in Delhi: "The riots occurred broadly on account of the total passivity, callousness and indifference of the police in the matter of controlling the situation and protecting the people of the Sikh community."

1.3.10. Sixth Report of the National Police Commission, March 1981: "(There are) several instances where police officers and policemen have shown an unmistakable bias against a particular community while dealing with communal situations… (The composition of the police) is heavily weighted in favour of the majority community."

1.3.11. In its report, the National Integration Council, drew similar conclusions: "The most disquieting feature in recent times is the loss of credibility of the police in the effective tackling of communal disturbances. The charge of partisanship was levelled against the PAC during the communal violence at Aligarh. A police force which cannot command the trust of all sections of the community is self-defeating… Police, like the judiciary, must not only be impartial but must manifestly be so. We have to build up a police system without caste and communal prejudices affecting its role and performance, a system vigilant, alert and impartial, capable of exercising operational freedom in the ruthless suppression of communal riots."

1.4.The Tribunal therefore observes that this disturbing trend of partisan, communal and anti-constitutional police behaviour has grown over time. Even prior to the Gujarat carnage, the police have almost always been charged with unprofessional, partisan conduct.

1.5. The issue of police bias has been a subject of nationwide debate in recent years underlining the urgent need to professionalise the country’s police force.

1.6. Despite the well-documented findings of so many commissions of inquiry, that reveal clear and distinct trends, despite the fact that every fresh communal conflagration provides further proof of police bias, no government has displayed the moral courage to legislate on a statutory police commission with an independent structure and an independent grievances cell to investigate complaints against police misconduct.

1.7. It is imperative that steps to reform the police force are placed on the national agenda for debate and fresh legislation immediately.


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace