NCM annual meet to focus police treatment of minorities

The annual conference of the National Commission for Minorities this year will give prominence to the conduct of police towards minorities across the nation.

This year the NCM has detailed a one and a half day programme including a seminar on the issue of 'Police and Minorities'.

The apparent departure from the earlier annual meets is attributed to a large portion of complaints the NCM received with regard to the police's handling of cases concerning minorities.

The conference at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, will be held from March 13 to 14, and will be attended by Law Minister Salman Khurshid and West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan and senior cop Julio Rebeiro, among others.

Besides representatives of the state minorities commissions, the conference will also see presentations made by NGOs and human rights activists.

"The Commission felt that the police needs to be further sensitized in dealing with the minorities, hence the annual conference of the state minorities commissions will discuss the issue in detail," NCM stated in a release on Saturday.

It said state minorities commissions would first speak about the conditions prevailing on the ground, joined by NGOs and activists who will share on their experiences.

The NCM, headed by Wajahat Habibullah, between 2011-2012 carried on spot visits to three riot affected areas, that included Forbesganj in Araria district of Bihar, Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand.

Following its visits, the Commission expressed chief concern at the arrest of large number of Muslim youth and their long periods of detention in jails without adequate evidence.

The Commission was also agitated that after years of being under trials, sometimes for more than a decade, the police were not able to prove the charges. The acquitted youth were not properly rehabilitated and in extreme cases not allowed to lead normal lives.

As a solution, the Commission, headed by the chairperson Wajahat Habibullah, recommended to states and the Union government the need to have speedy trial and to strengthen and make the prosecution branch independent and critical so it can check the infallibility of the evidence before arrests.

With regard to the issues of Christians taken up by the Commission, the list included incidents of profiling of Christians in Madhya Pradesh where a census of Christian organisations and churches was ordered by the Bhopal police; the anti Christian propaganda carried out in the last year's Khumb Mela in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh; and harassment of Christians in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh for holding prayer meetings in their houses.