Police Officers Display Hindu Identity Prominently

July 20, 2004

Source: Ahmedabad Newsline


On July 20, 2004 Ahmedabad Newsline reported, "At the Naroda Police Station, in a corner of Senior Inspector V.S. Gohil’s chamber is a mini temple. There are idols and pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses on a shelf. Garlands, flowers, and agarbattis indicate there is daily puja. Gohil readily admits as much. He says he’s religious, of course, and is bewildered that anyone should question the elaborate 'puja sthal' with fairy lights inside his chamber. 'Being a police officer does not mean that I cease to be a Hindu,' he said. 'What’s wrong with this?' The army recently initiated a drive to emphasise its secular character by asking staff on duty not to sport signs of their religion on their person or display them in offices and vehicles. And in most states, police stations are discouraged from displaying religious pictures or idols. But things are evidently different with police in Gujarat. The men are in khaki. If it weren’t for their nameplates � many don’t even have them � there’s no way you’d know their religion. There should be no need, either. But chances are that as you step into any police station in Ahmedabad, you can’t help feeling that the force is Hindu first...Director-General of Police A.K. Bhargava seemed sure of himself when he said that 'no Muslim visiting a police station to lodge a complain feels frightened because of these pictures and idols. They know that a policeman remains a policeman despite being a Hindu.' Like him, most inspectors in charge of police stations said there’s nothing wrong with the practice. Some seemed proud of the fact. And some said there was nothing in the police manual to prevent it."