Delhi: What happened after a policeman kicked people offering namaz? 

0
116

The job of the police is neither to shower flowers nor to kick a person while offering namaz. The police are trained to treat everyone equally, said Uttar Pradesh Ex-DGP Vikram Singh.

India Tomorrow

New Delhi: The “disgusting” act of a Delhi police officer kicking Muslim men while offering ‘namaz’ (prayer) demonstrates how a community is being “dehumanised in people’s eyes”, said locals at northwest Delhi’s Inderlok where the incident took place on March 8. When police personnel throw petals at kanvarias, who overflow roadways, they said, traffic interruption cannot be a selective problem. The language of the state cannot be different for different communities.

It was around six in the evening, a day after the controversial video — showing a police post incharge slapping, pushing and kicking a group of devotees, who were offering the congregational prayer on road, apparently causing traffic disruption — surfaced on Internet and a disciplinary action was initiated against him following a protest staged by local Muslims. Police personnel were deployed at various places. Central Police Force (CAPF) men were alighting from buses and taking positions on the roads.

A crowd of youth (most of them children) was moving forward, shouting slogans on the wide road — leading from the metro station towards the Makki Masjid. The slogan of ‘Allahu Akbar’ was echoing intermittently.

A Delhi Police official told India Tomorrow, “The incident has been taken seriously. The police post incharge has been placed under suspension without any delay, and an inquiry is underway. Apart from deploying police force in the area, all necessary steps are being taken to maintain peace and tranquility in the area. Local peace committee and respected people are cooperating with us to ensure that no anti-social element takes advantage of the unfortunate incident.”

Even after the removal of the cop, there was palpable anger among local residents, who refused to see it in isolation — alleging that occurrences of such incidents are “results of systematic targeting and dehumanisation” of the community.

A young man, who did not wish to identify himself, said, “The incident has hurt every Muslim in the country. We are being made to feel that we are second class citizens. We will show that it is not so.”

The locals confirmed that Delhi Police held talks with influential and respected people and religious leaders of the area — all of whom assured to maintain peace.

Though there was no sign of resentment and potential threat to the law and order, for security reasons, CPF and Delhi Police personnel remained deployed.

A long-bearded man, wearing a skull cap, said, “Maulanas (clerics) have spoken to the police commissioner, who has ensured action against the police officer as per law.”

An elderly man said, “The disgusting act of the officer suggests how communalism has even seeped in the ranks of the city. After all, the police also belong to the same society — which is fed with hatred against Muslims by politicians and Right-wing forces and is highly polarised on communal lines.”

“Mere suspension is not enough”, according to him, such people should be “removed from the police force forever”.

The man in his late 60s said a sedition is justifying the police action, arguing that roads are not meant for carrying out religious practices and that the namazis were causing traffic disruptions.

“How selective is this argument? A small group of people spread out their mat to offer prayer as the mosque was already full. The supplication (by Muslims) does not take more than 2-3 minutes. And that too once a week. But on the other hand, almost all religious activities of other communities are performed on roads. But people conveniently ignore traffic hindrances. Kanvarias (devotees of annual pilgrimage of Shiva) run amok every year, but, instead of dealing with them sternly, they are showered on flower petals. Is it not a double standard and discrimination on part of the society, the government and the police?” he said.

Inderlok is a Muslim-concentrated area of the national capital. About 15,000 Muslims live here.

Makki Masjid is a big mosque here that can accommodate thousands of people to simultaneously offer prayer. There is another big mosque about 300 meters away from here. It is called Mohammadi Masjid.

However, despite having two big mosques, the number of people coming to offer prayers on Friday exceeds the capacity of the mosque.

Mohammad Fayyaz, who runs a perfume shop near the second mosque, said, “I have been living here since 1976. It has been 48 years since Inderlok came into existence. This had never happened till date, this is the first such incident.”

He claimed Section 144 of the Cr.P.C. (a prohibitory order) was never imposed in the area even during the infamous Delhi riots of 2020. People of all religions, he said, live here together. “We are surprised that such an incident happened in Inderlok,” he wondered.

Fayyaz, who has spent a long part of his life here, has been offering prayers in the mosque for a long time.

“With the increase in population, the capacity of the mosque is not enough. On Fridays, due to the large crowd, prayers are offered twice in congregation in the mosque premises.”

But sometimes, he said, due to the number of outside worshippers, people offer namaz on the road as well.

He was sad that the worshipers who were bowing in prostration were kicked, slapped and manhandled.

A Delhi Police official, who has been posted at the Inderlok police post, too agreed with locals that the area has by and large been peaceful.

“Such a situation has never happened here. When I was posted here, we had requested the mosque committee to organise namaz more than once on Fridays so that people don’t have to offer prayer on the road, and it was accepted,” he said on strict condition of anonymity.

He said there was anger among the people following the incident; but by the evening, everyone returned to their homes. “Now see, everything is peaceful,” he said.

India Tomorrow met one of those, who were seen being pushed and kicked in the viral video.

Here’s what young Mohammad Nabeel had to say: “I go to the mosque to offer prayer every Friday. But that day, when the incident took place, I was a little late. And therefore, I could not find a place inside the mosque premise as it was jam packed. I rolled out my mat and began offering prayer outside along with others. We were just 20-25 people.”

Suddenly, according to him, he was pushed, slapped and kicked. “I could not understand what was happening as I was busy with my prayer. Despite getting assaulted, I completed the prayer. Later, I realised that it was a police man who was doing so. This was the first occasion when such an outrageous incident happened,” he narrated the ordeal, urging authorities to terminate the officer in question as mere suspension — according to him — is not enough.

Another young man was visibly outraged when asked about the incident. He said when the police, who are supposed to give protection to the citizens and remain religion neutral, will begin indulging in such “communal” acts, how will they be trusted?

“If he deemed offering prayer on the road illegal, he would have dealt with the devotees as per law. They would have been filmed, identified, called to the police station and warned, detained or arrested and produced before a court of law. But the officer acted like a judge, jury and prosecution,” said the apparently upset man.

‘Let’s Get Peaceful Atmosphere Vitiated Ahead of Elections’

People associated with the managing committee of the mosque, where the incident took place, refused to talk.

However, one Nafees Ahmed, a social activist, said such an incident can be used for communal polarisation ahead of the upcoming general elections, hence it is better to remain silent.

“Lok Sabha polls are coming. And therefore, people have begun resorting to politics of hate to use such incidents to spread communalism. Therefore, it is better to keep mum,” he added.

He said the police have already taken action but if something like this happens in future, courts can be approached.

Some elders, sitting in a group at a tea stall, discussing the incident, had a suggestion for Muslim youth: “be patient”. “After such incidents, one should control anger,” said one amid the agreement of others.

An elderly man said, “Whatever has happened was very bad and should be equivocally condemned, but it should also be understood that there was no intention behind it. Elections are coming, anything can happen. People should act with patience and understanding,” he said.

Anger Among Youth

However, the youth were angry. They were linking the incident to their religious identity.

A young man in his early twenties says, “This level of misbehavior can only be done to a Muslim. On one hand, the administration showers flowers on the people taking out kanvar and on the other hand, it kicks the namazis (Muslim worshippers) who are performing sajda (the act of submission before God). Can you tell me how to describe it?”

Another said, “The police officer who was kicking the devotees was suspended. But we all know that he got the courage because such injustices meted out to Muslims has become a new normal in the society. It is of late considered a matter of pride to treat Muslims like this.”

The policeman, he claimed, would be garlanded and the Hindu supremacist incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might field him in elections as its candidates in the future.

“The self-proclaimed ‘sadak adhikar rakshaks’ perhaps forgot that Muslims were offering prayer in Gurugram on a vacant plot with police permission. Still, they were not allowed. Roads are often occupied during religious and cultural events. But only offering namaz on the road for a few minutes is tolerated because there is hatred against Islam,” he alleged.

‘A disgraceful stain on the uniform’

The police are a secular force, believes former Vikram Singh, former director general of police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh, adding that the incident of kicking people, who were offering prayers, has raised questions on the functioning of the Delhi Police.

“This shows insensitivity as well as lack of training and proper guidance. The incident has tainted the uniform, and this ugly stain is not going to go away easily. This incident seems to last for a few seconds, but its echo and negativity will last for years,” he said.

He too was of the view that suspension is not enough but a case should also be registered.

“Mere suspension is not enough, a case should also be filed against him and he should be relieved,” he said, adding that the cop involved in the incident “should not be seen as the brand ambassador of the police”.

Singh claimed the police department is a secular organisation. “Such a situation can be dealt with humanity and sensitivity. The police should not look at anyone from the perspective of a minority or majority,” he said.

He added the job of the police is neither to shower flowers nor to kick a person while offering namaz. “The police are trained to treat everyone equally,” he concluded.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here