The curious case of the commissioner's comments

Updated: Dec 26, 2019, 17:53 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Political parties, former IPS officer, and activists question Sanjay Barve's unusual remarks defending the central govt's CAA

Sanjay Barve
Sanjay Barve

Mumbai police chief Sanjay Barve has raised eyebrows after he came out in support of the Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) while addressing preachers from the Muslim community on Wednesday.

MAHA Vikas Aaghadi (MVA) partner NCP, asked him to refrain from making political comments and focus on law and order. The Congress and NCP are completely against the law. Shiv Sena had voted in favour of the bill in Lok Sabha and walked out of the Rajya Sabha when it was tabled. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also assured Muslims that the law will not be implemented in the state and no one has to worry about their citizenship.

According to sources, Mumbai police's intelligence department has shared inputs about unrest in the Muslim community over CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Several peaceful protests have been held in the city, but the intelligence department was worried about law and order as anti-social elements may take advantage of the situation to disrupt the peace in the city.

Following the inputs, Barve called a meeting with community and religious leaders, during which he said, "I was born at home and I don't have a birth certificate. This doesn't mean I will be thrown out of the country. I will prove my citizenship whenever required. Indians living here legally won't be impacted by CAA and NRC. If I have nothing to worry about, then how are Muslims going to lose their citizenship? Misinformation is being spread among Muslims and they have been misguided about the law."

"The draft NRC has not been prepared yet. If it comes, only outsiders will have problems, not us Indians. Keep praying for your country during Friday prayers. There are some people trying to disturb the peace and harmony in the city; trying to create a communal divide. Many people are asking for police permission to protest; they mostly belong to the leftist ideology. I know who they are and what they want. People are requested to not participate in protests that do not have police permission," he added.

When asked about his remarks blaming the leftist ideology, he said, "Misconceptions and rumours are there, we know they are being spread through social media. There are some people trying to disturb peace and harmony; we know who are they but we are keeping the city safe."

mid-day reached out to Sena spokespersons Sanjay Raut and Priyanka Chaturvedi but did not get a response to calls and messages.

Avoid political statements: NCP

"Barve's job is to maintain law and order in the city. He should refrain from making political comments. If he said something like this, it is serious. Our stand is clear that we will not support any law which is biassed towards any religion," said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.

This is wrong: Cong

Reacting sharply to Barve's comments, former chief minister Ashok Chavan said, "This is a mass movement by the people of India, the entire country is protesting against the law; the commissioner's statement is wrong. I want to know if this is the government's stand.

Former IPS officers speak

Former city police chief M N Singh said that Barve did not break any rules and appreciated his comments. "He did nothing wrong, what he has spoken is the fact. He should be appreciated for it," Singh said.

"Officers at such high position should be guarded about what they are saying publicly," said retired IPS officer, P K Jain. 

'Which sect within the Left is he talking about?'

"We are very clear that the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The entire country is protesting. In Maharashtra, with the help of the government, almost every protest went peacefully. During the August Kranti Maidan protest, we worked in very close coordination with the Commissioner of Police and we thank him for the entire bandobast. As far as the left is concerned, there is a different sect, he must come clear on which sect he is talking about and whose permission he has refused," said activist Feroze Mithiborwala.

"We have been doing our best to maintain peace in the city by taking religious leaders into confidence and assuring them that nothing wrong will happen to them. I have just said that I have been receiving a lot of applications for protests, mostly from people from the Left," said Barve.

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