Among the many initiatives are visits to schools, madrasas, dispensaries and Unani clinics starting this month. “It has been brought to our notice that classification on the basis of religion exists in police stations and this is a serious issue,” said a senior officer.
According to senior officers, the first meeting on the issue was held at the office of the Directorate General of Police on Wednesday with the focus on “interactions with the minority community”. While the Nashik Police Academy has introduced soft skills in the curriculum from this term, cases have come forward indicating the bias that the community, especially people living in poor pockets, face when they visit a police station. The prejudices also extend to the manner in which their complaints are probed or entertained.
One of the immediate suggestion is weekly visits to local dispensaries and Unani clinics that surround slums and small pockets. “We have thought over it and the best access points need to be tapped. Clinics around slums is a space where the community will visit. With health as a major problem in slums, this is one place that we would like to tap to build bridges with the community,” said a senior officer.
Accordingly, cops will now be made to visit dispensaries and interact with local doctors and patients. “They will have a number to call in times of need and have a face of a cop to remember.”
Schools and madrasas have also been identified as a meeting point. “Winning over the youth is very important. Police personnel will visit schools and madrasas and interact with principals, teachers and students. They will also ensure that they network among the community, exchange numbers and become more accessible,” he added.
“The station house officers are our best opportunity and we are going to train them to interact with the community. These are initiatives to get them to interact, understand their issues better and not differentiate on the lines of religion.”
In a separate meeting at the commissionerate level, a need to understand ways to penetrate into the community and gain its trust has been imitated after the lessons learnt from the Azad Maidan riot. One of the reasons for the mismanagement was the lack of trust for the uniform. The police are now also looking to adopt measures to educate the personnel on the different sects in the community and the various etiquette unique to each.