Activists Demand Police Training Camps for Minorities in All Districts of Maharashtra

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Critics lash out at the state government’s decision to continue with the previous policy of conducting training programmes for aspiring police candidates in only 14 out of 36 districts

Ashok Kumar | Clarion India

MUMBAI – The decision of the Maharashtra government to continue pre-recruitment training of minority community youngsters seeking police constables posts in just 14 out of the 36 districts in the state has been widely criticised here.

The Minority Development ministry in the state issued a notification relating to the selection of NGOs in 14 districts who will conduct training camps for youngsters from minority communities.

Activists are demanding that the government extend the pre-recruitment training to all the 36 districts in the state including those where there is a large population of Muslims.

“When I was the minister for minorities development in 2009, I introduced this scheme across all districts in Maharashtra,” Arif Naseem Khan, vice-president, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), told Clarion India on Saturday. “Youngsters from various minority communities, and not just Muslims, were trained to ensure that they could join the police force.”

But after the BJP came to power in Maharashtra in 2014, the scheme was virtually ignored, said Khan. The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government (which includes the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress), which came to power in November 2019, revived the scheme, but restricted it to only 14 districts.

“It is very important to ensure that young men and women from minority communities should be trained to join the police force,” explains Khan. “Unfortunately, such schemes are not there in most parts of India and Maharashtra was one of the few that had launched the training scheme in 2009.”

Surprisingly, the 14 districts that were selected in November do not include those with a significant minority population such as Greater Mumbai, Thane, Raigadh and Jalgaon.

Collectors in districts select NGOs who conduct two-month training camps that include physical fitness and help the students for the police entrance exams. Of course, there is no guarantee that those who complete the training programmes are recruited as constables.

Naseem Siddiqui, former chairman of the Minorities Commission in the state, said the Muslim population in many of the 14 districts is quite low as compared to the rest of the 22 districts in the state.

Surprisingly, many of the NGOs that are selected to conduct the programmes are not managed by minorities. Activists have urged the government to let NGOs managed by minorities to conduct the camps.

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