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50% cops feel Muslims 'naturally' commit crimes, 20% call anti-atrocities law biased

By Our Representative
A recent report, “Status of Policing in India Report” (SPIR) has found that 14% police personnel feel Muslims are ‘very much’ naturally prone to committing crimes, while 36% feel they are ‘somewhat’ naturally prone to committing crimes. Also, 25% personnel, according to survey (to a large extent and somewhat combined), feel that “natural for a mob to punish the culprit in case of cow slaughter.”
Finding a huge bias against the Dalits and Adivasis in a large section of the police force, the report, published by Common Cause and Lokniti-Centre for the Study Developing Societies (CSDS), says that one in five police personnel believe complaints under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, also known as Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act are “very much false and motivated”, with upper caste personnel “more likely to be of this opinion.”
Claiming to be the “first of its kind” survey in India and South Asia, the survey involves a sample of 12,000 police personnel inside police stations or at their residences across India in 21 states, and also a sample of 10,595 of their family members. The results of the survey have close on the heels of recent reports that India’s undertrial population has “a disproportionate number of people from marginalised sections and communities, such as Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis/tribals, non-literate, poor, etc.”
The report says, “Police personnel in four of the states surveyed, namely, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar, had about two-thirds or more police personnel who held the opinion that the Muslim community is likely (‘very much’ and ‘somewhat’ combined) to be naturally prone towards committing violence.”
It adds, “Police personnel from Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have the highest proportion of those believing that people from Dalit communities are highly likely to be naturally prone towards committing crimes (about one in every five reported ‘very much’). Also, in Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, more than half of the police personnel believe that they are likely to be naturally prone towards committing violence (combining ‘very much’ and ‘somewhat’).”
According to the report, “While Rajasthan and Maharashtra had about half of the police personnel reporting that Adivasis are likely to be naturally prone towards committing crimes (‘very much’ and ‘somewhat’ combined), about two-fifth of the police personnel in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Gujarat believe so, all states which fall under the Fifth Schedule, except Uttarakhand.”
The survey further finds that about three-fifths of the upper-caste police personnel to be more likely to believe that in their experience complaints under the PoA Act are “false and motivated (‘very much’ and ‘somewhat’ combined), while SC and ST police personnel believing so were 9 and 20 percentage points lesser, respectively.”
State-wise, the report says, “About four in every five police personnel from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand believe that complaints under the PoA Act are false and motivated (‘very much’ and ‘somewhat’ combined), with six other States (Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala) having at least three in every five police personnel believing so.” 
Pointing out that in the recent years, numerous cases of mob violence against individuals (sometimes referred to as ‘mob lynching’) on suspicions of cow-slaughter, kidnapping, etc. have been reported, with the police allegedly playing an enabling role for the people engaging in such forms of violence, the report states, “While more than one in every three police personnel believe it to be natural for a mob to punish the alleged culprit in a case of cow-slaughter (‘to a large extent’ and ‘somewhat’ combined), about two in every five believe so in other three cases of crimes.”
The report comments, “Looking at it the other way, a little less than half believed it to be not natural at all for the mob to punish the culprit in a case of cow-slaughter, while more than half found it to be natural (either ‘to a large extent’ or ‘somewhat’ or ‘rarely’)."
The report asserts, “We found a notable difference in the opinions on disaggregating the respondents on the basis of their ranks. The senior officers are less likely to believe the action of mob to be natural compared to their subordinates (constabulary ranks). While 28% of seniors were found to believe the mob violence in case of cow slaughter to be more of natural (‘to a large extent’ or ‘somewhat’), the proportion of subordinates were found to be 8 percentage points higher.”
Believes the report, “This finding makes a clear case for proper training in essential aspects of the rule of law at all levels in order to inculcate constitutional values and rational conduct among police personnel”, adding, “On delving deeper into state-wise analysis, Madhya Pradesh was found to have two in every five, and Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh about one in every four believing it to be very natural for a mob to punish the culprit in case of cow slaughter.”
The report says, “As our findings indicate, a majority of the police personnel did not report the treatment to be completely equal across the lines of caste and religion. The police force, by and large, also appears to be insensitive towards the needs of protection and rehabilitation for children in conflict with law, and instead hold the opinion that they should be treated in the same manner as adult criminals.”

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