He said he was a devout Muslim and he would offer prayers regularly while on duty at the police station and no one had ever objected to his practice
Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — A Muslim policeman posted in the Ramala police station in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh was suspended from his services by the department for growing beard.
Sub-inspector Intishar Ali was asked by his officers a few days ago to shave off his beard or face action. However, he chose to defy the dictum and, consequently, was served a suspension order.
“Yes, I have been suspended because of my beard.” Speaking with Clarion India from Baghpat, Ali said he is sporting the beard for religious reasons and has the right to do so. “Why should I remove my beard?,” he asked.
— Sachin Gupta | सचिन गुप्ता (@sachingupta787) October 21, 2020
The office of Superintendent of Police, Baghpat confirmed the reports of Ali’s suspension to Clarion India citing violation of the dress code. PRO of SP Baghpat Abhishek Singh said: “With regard to the beard, he (Ali) was served a notice once in the past as well for misconduct but even then he kept violating the uniform code. Now he has been suspended.”
Ali, who was posted in Baghpat three years ago, hails from a village near Deoband in Saharanpur district. He said he was a devout Muslim and he would offer prayers regularly while on duty at the police station and no one had ever objected to his practice.
“I do my duty and also do my namaz. I never thought I would be punished like this for keeping a beard. I have my right to live and follow my religion,’ Ali said. “There are two more Muslim cops with me here but they do not have beard and it is their choice; I cannot force them to follow my path.”
As the news of suspension appeared on internet, it sparked sharp reactions from social media users who said that the UP police was being “unfair” against a Muslim cop.
People were quick to draw comparisons with other instances in their criticism of the action against Ali. Asif Khan, a social media activist, shared a picture of a cop kneeling before UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Pic 1 : UP Cop Praveen Kumar kneeling before Yogi Adityanath for religious reasons. (2018)
Pic 2 : SI Inteshar Ali was suspended by Baghpat Police because he sports a beard. (2020) pic.twitter.com/6ro2Vpxpw3
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) October 22, 2020
However, according to a report by IANS, SP Baghpat said that as per the police manual, only Sikhs were allowed to keep a beard. He said that Ali should have asked for permission from the department and he kept defying the warnings.
When asked whether he was planning to challenge the suspension, Ali said he would request the department to reinstate him but he added that he would not accept the condition of shaving off his beard.
A similar controversy made news in November last year also when the police in Alwar district of Rajasthan asked nine Muslim policemen to shave off their beards. However, the order was withdrawn only the next day after an uproar.
Muslims constitute around 15% of India’s 1.3 billion population but their representation in the police is an abysmal 3-4%, according to a 2019 study by Tata Trust.