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Our Khaki Protectors

Keki N. Daruwalla

Edited by Asghar Ali Engineer and Amritjit S. Narang
Manohar Publishers, Delhi, 2006, pp. 227, Rs. 625.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 9 September 2008

This volume is a collection of seminar papers written by academics and police officers. Like all seminar papers, they are informative, at times insightful and repetitive. How original can a dozen speakers be, dealing with the same subject? Here they tend to be prolix as well. Not many chairpersons have succeeded in putting limits to academic verbosity on the podium.   At the very outset let it be said that the police has played a very partisan role in quite a few sectarian riots in the country. If we look at the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, the 1992-93 Bombay riots in the long-drawn aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, and the post- Godhra riots in Gujarat, just to name a few, the police need to feel ashamed. There have been sundry riots in Meerut and Muzaffar-nagar too where the PAC (Pradeshik Armed Constabulary) of Uttar Pradesh played a decisively homicidal role. They shot Muslims and threw them in a canal (May 1987).   Let us take the larger picture first. How much of this police antipathy towards Sikhs (after the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi) and towards Muslims in general is due to political activism (1984 Delhi) and indoctrination? How much of it is due to militancy, terrorism and secessionism? The issue of minorities has to be viewed in a particular framework and we need to tackle the devil’s advocate first, as also some of his questions. We have two states where the minorities are in a majority. So firstly, have secessionist trends been noticed in J & K and Punjab? The cry for Khalistan (even if it was a historic aberration) and the slogan ‘Kashmir banega Pakistan’ are familiar to us, we are reminded by the two-horned guy. Secondly, did the Hindus suffer in these states—Kashmiri Pundits et al? Can one think of a Hindu chief minister in Kashmir or Punjab? Thirdly, are the minorities less sectarian than the Hindus? Fourthly, did some sections of these minorities take to terrorism in the near past? Lastly have these militants/ terrorists killed policemen in tens or in hundreds? Someone in this seminar of verbal largesse could have tried to answer these Mephistophelian queries, I thought. This reviewer certainly ain’t gonna attempt it.   The extreme right wing Hindutva brigades have been making capital of these very issues. They have reminded the Hindu that he has been in subjection for a thousand years and must assert ...

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