Pehle Aap: Targeting Muslims with Urdu

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


  1. Let the authorities do their job, may be there is genuine concern. Why should you associate everything with religion and community? Are you not the same people who want to disassociate yourself from terrorists? These kind of articles confirm that you seem them only through religious eye, unfortunately madam, there are lot of anti social elements who are also brainwashing minds through religious texts, we want a safer India, for that everything has to be done.

  2. No police need not learn sanskrit, as nobody reads religious texts let alone use it to justify any of thier actions unlike Muslims. For Muslims, Quran is the final word, and they follow everything literally.

  3. F&F:

    If you wish your comment to appear, repost WITHOUT your bulletpoint blah that is devious & imputes motives to things I have in fact spoken AGAINST.

    I don't have the time or inclination to point them out, but I don't want a mischievous commenter to mislead.

    Shape up or ship out. Thanks.

  4. FV

    Thanks for the caution. I don't have my comment saved with me. You can cut-copy-paste on my behalf, if I may tax your graciousness.

    Or there will always be a next time. Jihad isn't going away in a hurry! Nor am I. Hopefully. :)

  5. FV

    Just read the views of other commentators above. They seem to have already got the point.

    I am not indispensable, after all. :)

  6. Ladybug:

    {Why should you associate everything with religion and community?}


    {there are lot of anti social elements who are also brainwashing minds through religious texts, we want a safer India, for that everything has to be done}

    Since you've fallen into your own trap, I don't need to say anything on that.

    {No police need not learn sanskrit, as nobody reads religious texts let alone use it to justify any of thier actions unlike Muslims. For Muslims, Quran is the final word, and they follow everything literally.}

    I reckon you have read the Quran, met every single Muslim in the world or are aware of their behaviour, think they all look, sound, smell, feel, think alike.

    I use the term Muslim terrorists, so obviously I am not in denial, unlike you. FYI, saffron terrorists and goons use religion as their calling card and use religious slogans. Keep your ears open, even if your mind is not.



    Glad you have found someone of your 'ilk'! Perhaps you could start outsourcing...will save you the trouble of saving your comments.

    21/05/2013 17:16

  7. FV

    1. 'My ilk' is sort of rare, were one to believe you. Is that a good thing or bad, in your view?

    2. It seems you have met every Hindutvawadi or at least every Narendra Modi fan in the world. How much time did that take?

    By the way, have you ever met the man himself? Ever felt like? If not, do you feel it is correct to voice opinions? (Your yardstick, not mine).

    Assume that my ilk has outsourced this to me. :)

  8. What everyone seems to need is a training in logic and common sense. Stuff like this starts happening when stupidity takes over.

  9. When people take the time and effort to learn about the cultural richness, language, and heritage attributes of other segments of their own nation, it makes them better Indians who would hold better-balanced views on and understanding of issues due to being closer to the ground realities. It would accordingly make for a better (more educated) citizenry and therefore for a stronger country. It is even more important for those in position of power to develop a level of sensitivity to minority concerns (the most insidious acts of discrimination often occur under the cover of authority). Therefore, IMHO, such training programs would be beneficial, however awkwardly they have been forwarded.

  10. Sai:

    {What everyone seems to need is a training in logic and common sense. Stuff like this starts happening when stupidity takes over.}

    You said it.



    I appreciate what you are saying, but this is not about discovering cultural heritage. But this is certainly not the motive here, and as I have explained using a blanket religion or language is not apt, due to the vast differences.

    At a government office not too long ago I say many Muslims - some recognisable due to their clothes, or their form of greeting, or their names. But they spoke in different languages, came from different strata. And trust me, those who spoke fluent Marathi, even wearing a burqa, got more attention than I did. When I tried to speak in Marathi, I got a reply in English or Hindi.

    I realise that those in positions of power need to be sensitised. I also mentioned it should be towards everyone and not just Muslims. This training is too dependent on stereotypes and will in fact feed it.

    Would it not be better that the police spoke to groups in mohallas in a more casual manner and built up trust?

    I am completely against the special Muslim officers/havaldars to look after Muslims. It is worse than a ghetto mentality.

  11. at least know we can expect police officer to learn some good manners from the Urdu language and get civilized. I hope they would respect and address women , man, children in a respectable manner

  12. Rizwan Alam,

    And perhaps also convert to Islam and learn to hate non-Muslims with a vengeance? Your logic, not mine.


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