New report lays bare prejudices of cops

New report lays bare prejudices of cops

One-third of policemen also believe that people from Schedule Caste (35%), OBCs (33%), upper caste (33%) and tribals (31%) are prone to committing crimes.

One in every two Indian policemen believes that Muslims are “very much” or “somewhat” prone to committing crimes and that police complaints of atrocities against Schedule Caste and tribals are “false and motivated”, says a new study on police prejudice.

One-third of policemen also believe that people from Schedule Caste (35%), OBCs (33%), upper-caste (33%) and tribals (31%) are prone to committing crimes.

Karnataka police personnel topped the list when it came to believing Muslims and Schedule Caste are “very much” prone to committing crimes, with 26% and 22% of policemen exhibiting the prejudice respectively. The figure hits 50% if one takes into consideration those who believe these groups are “somewhat” into criminal activities. 

The startling revelations are part of the ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions’ prepared by Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Lokniti-CSDS) and ‘Common Cause’.

The report covered 11,836 police personnel, including 2,416 women and 10,595 of their family members, in 21 states. 

“An institutional bias against the marginalised sections further increases the vulnerability of these groups,” the report said. “A healthier police-public interface can only be achieved when these prejudices are attacked and due process is established. Thus, there is an urgent need for the police to come out of the web of societal prejudices and prove itself efficient in upholding all the rights provided by the Constitution.” 

According to the report, more than half of the police personnel in 15 out of 21 states surveyed believe that complaints under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are “very much” or “somewhat” false and motivated.

This prejudice is highest among UP Police (82%) followed by Andhra Pradesh police (74%). Thirty per cent of Karnataka Police believe “very much” in this prejudice while another 25% believe such cases are “somewhat” not true.

Underlining the impact of such beliefs, the report said, “such opinions by people in a position of power placed within the criminal justice system are bound to have an impact on the manner in which the provisions of such law are implemented”. 

About two-thirds of policemen in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar held the opinion that Muslims were likely to be naturally prone (very much and somewhat) to committing violence. In Uttarakhand, this figure was as high as 79%.

Policemen from Karnataka (22%) and Uttar Pradesh (19%) had the highest amount of personnel believing that people from the Schedule Caste were highly likely to be prone to committing crimes. Among police believing these communities are “somewhat” prone to committing violence, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand have 50% such personnel.

In Uttar Pradesh Police, more than half believe that upper-caste Hindus are “very much” or “somewhat” naturally prone to committing violence.

Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka had the highest number of police personnel who believe OBCs to be very likely to be naturally prone to committing violence (15% reporting as ‘very much’).