India

Delhi Police Ramadan PR Strategy for Muslims in Batla House

Tarique Anwar and Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines

New Delhi: The Delhi Police seems to be attempting to reach out to the residents of Jamia Nagar, a Muslim majority locality in South-east Delhi. The police have put up banners at different flying locations of the area wishing the residents for the holy month of Ramadan.

The area hit headlines after the infamous Batla House ‘encounter’, in which two Muslim youth from Azamgarh, a district in Uttar Pradesh, were killed in cold blood in the same holy month on September 19, 2008, by the Special Cell sleuths of the Delhi Police. The police claim that the slain youth were key operatives of the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen.

Photo: Joydeep Hazarika

Moreover, the residents of Batla House have many times faced the cops in unpopular ways. The area has a history of untoward incidences in the noblest month. On December 26, 2000, two youths were gunned down in the same area. The shootout was also under scanner. On September 22, 2007, the police allegedly desecrated the holy Quran, that too in the same month of fasting. That incident resulted into severe skirmish between the police and public. Consequently, hundreds of the residents of the area were arrested. Some of them are still behind bars.

Interestingly, this year the police seem to have realised that they have no credibility among the residents of the locality. So they have come up with a decent ‘public relations’ strategy. The Delhi Police has displayed banners across the locality in Urdu as well as Hindi wishing the residents a peaceful Ramadan and asking for cooperation at the same time.

Notably, the Batla House shootout resulted in large scale public anger. The residents and many civil and human rights groups came to streets in protests against the Delhi Police and demanded a judicial probe into the incident to which the Delhi and central governments have not yet agreed. The government, in violation to the guidelines of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) on police encounters, claims that the incident does not deserve a judicial enquiry. However, the NHRC guidelines say that every encounter is a cold blooded murder and a judicial enquiry is a must after it.

Also in order to maintain law and order, a heavy police deployment is being observed in the area. The police preparations even include watch-towers apart from routine barricades and armed personnel.

Although the police deployment in the area has become a daily affair for the residents after the Batla House shootout, the good wishes from the department have aroused some interest among the people. It is now to be seen to what extent the Delhi Police gets success in the ‘PR ’strategy.

 

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