In a completely regressive move, the Muslim community is being targeted through the backdoor. Take this report from The Times of India:
“The Mumbai police have started a two-month Urdu training program for anti-terrorism cell (ATC) officers. The crash course that involves an overview on the Islamic history as well aims to enhance their investigative skills and weeding out misconceptions, if any, about the Muslim community."
This assumes that Muslim terrorists refer to Islamic history. The assumption can be dangerous, for is a crash course a reliable method of getting to the facts? What about misrepresentation?
It is particularly important given that the cops were concerned about it. An ATC officer has been quoted saying:
"The training programme will help us track and interpret communications of terror outfits. Many a times, we recover documents from anti-social elements. There is no guarantee that the translator called will give correct information. We have to believe what is read out to us. The training will be of great help."
If the force does not have interpreters they can rely upon — and given that we are a secular nation I am sure there are many non-Muslims who can read and understand Urdu — why should people, the investigating agencies, the judiciary accept something learned quickly from a handbook?
Besides, are the codes written in Urdu? Do Muslims involved in terrorist activities only communicate in the langauge? This is worse than a stereotype. You go to different states and they speak the local language. Did the cops need to learn the Bhai lingo that the underworld employed? No. It was universal and applied as much to Chhota Rajan as to Chhota Shakeel. Dawood Ibrahim probably speaks better Konkani and Marathi than Urdu.
The next thing we know is that policemen would get busy watching films like 'Mere Mehboob' and 'Pakeezah' to figure out the possibility of some codes and implied gestures that are 'historically' relevant.
If all this is not infuriating enough, then there is more:
“The training is not restricted to language training. It also provides the ATC officials with detailed information about a certain community and its history. 'For example, the current batch of ATC officials getting trained in Urdu language is also taught about the history of Islam. Top cops and officials from intelligence agencies give lectures on how different terrorist groups formed globally and how they functions, how recruitments and training are given to the people,' said a senior ATC officer."
The certain community is the largest minority in the country. Which means all its members, due to their history, are now part of the detailed dossier. It is not anymore about finding what was loosely termed 'jihadi literature' (as though it is a genre of writing), but the crux of origin of this 'species'.
When the cops cannot get hold of criminals, the next best thing it seems is to get to the root of the problem. That the crime may have nothing to do with the roots or branches or whatever other part of the flora that engages the powers is a different matter.
What universal history would they refer to? Do they not realise that globally terrorism has not followed a single pattern, and I will not even mention terrorism by non-Muslims because those are 'gunmen', right? Or, closer home, they are just a few who were forced to react and there is no evidence against them, right?
For some political groups that are in thrall of our ancient civilisation to justify their contemporary pugnacity, this Urdu training is just what they'd want. It is pathetic that some Muslim groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind had offered courses on Islam, but the police officers had not reverted. Don't they realise how degrading it is, given the reason for it? And what is this about "sensitising" the cops to the minorities? The police force is supposed to be sensitised towards all citizens, and during times of crises certain groups might need special attention.
It does not mean giving them a lecture on Islam or having a word with them in Urdu. it means not treating them as suspects without reason and evidence.
And while we are at it, did the police need to learn the history of Hinduism and Sanskrit to understand Sadhvi Pragnya or Swami Aseemanand, not to speak about the various people within their own force involved in encounters and their political mai-baaps?
Clearly such codes have no language.
© Farzana Versey