Pune: For better understanding of the Muslim community, all senior police inspectors, in-charge of the 39 police stations in Pune, Pimpri and Chinchwad, and also divisional assistant commissioners of police (ACP), were given lessons about ‘Fundamentals of Islam’ on Tuesday. Officers from the special branch, which is the intelligence wing of Pune city police, also attended the workshop.
The need of this exercise arose when a police inspector failed to answer queries from city police chief Rashmi Shukla about mosques of different sects in the city.
Besides Shia and Sunni, who form a majority of the Muslims, the community is further divided in various sub-sects like Ahl-e Hadith (Hadis), Deobandi, Barelvi, Bohra, Khoja, Ithna-Ashari, Ahle Quran, Ahmadiyya, Sufi among others.
Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla, who has served extensively with the State intelligence department (SID) in the past, had asked a Mumbai-based Islamic scholar to guide the police officers.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Shukla said, “There can be law and order problems as people adhering to different sects converge at a mosque, which has been taken over by people following a particular sect. Until the officers know about the various facets and sects of Islam, it would be difficult for them to police in these situations.”
When asked if there is a rise in radicalisation among Muslim youths, she denied the same.
Officials said that there has been several clashes at masjids in the past and sometimes cops had to intervene to pacify the adherents of different sects over their ways of offering prayers.
“Once during the Juma namaz (Friday congregational prayer) at a mosque in Yerawada, there was a free-for-all fight, which resulted in a huge traffic jam on the Pune-Ahmednagar Highway. Senior police officers, besides a posse of police personnel, reached the spot to control the situation,” a policeofficer recalled.
Another officer added, “Globally, there has been a rise in hardliner Muslims with some sects trying to spread their ideology aggressively. Some masjids have been taken over by orthodox people, who want to impose their way of prayer on other Muslims coming to that mosque.”
The workshop was an eye-opener for many officers, who had not known much about the religion. “Being a largely misunderstood religion, Islam’s facets tend to cause some confusion in a person’s mind, who is ill-versed with the true facets of Islam. Nowadays, the religion is portrayed as though violence and terror, though, on the contrary, Islam is a religion showing a beautiful and peaceful demeanour,” an ACP told Sakal Times.
Police officials said that though sectarian divide is ‘deep’ among Muslims, a majority of the community is moderate.