Bengaluru: A police circular asking officers to scrutinize deeper passport applications from Muslims and Christians has stirred a controversy in Karnataka.
Amar Kumar Pandey, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) of the Internal Security Wing, faxed the circular to police commissioners of Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum, all major cities in the state with sizeable population of minority groups.
The circular states “Apart from verifying the nationality of applicants clearing passport applications, police should find out religion and sub-sect details. In case of Muslims, they should find out if the applicant is Sunni or Shia. If s/he is Sunni, then delve deeper and find out if the applicant belongs to Deobandi or Barelvi or Ahle-Hadith sub sect. Similarly, if an applicant hails from the Christian community, details like Roman Catholic or Protestant etc should be collected.”
When quizzed by a city newspaper, Pandey defended himself saying he did it in the interest of national security by focusing on “developments across the world.” He refused to divulge further reasons for his issuing the circular saying it was in the interest of ‘security.’
Later he retracted on the circular saying it is “temporarily” withdrawn adding “at this moment, the circular issued by me is null and void. We will take a fresh call on it after remaining it after reexamining the matter. It may take three or four days.”
Though the circular is scrapped “temporarily,” the motivation behind Pandey’s action is still uncertain. When the media questioned him why Hindus have not been named, he gave an evasive reply, saying, “There are so many sub-castes. We are doing it.” But he had no substantive explanation to back his claim.