MP police order probe

The state director general of police (DGP) took cognizance of the matter and said it should not have been done. He added, there was no bad intention behind the move.

Hindustan Times, Bhopal/Dhar
Candidates with ‘SC’ and ‘ST’ marked on their chests seen during a medical examination in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.
Candidates with ‘SC’ and ‘ST’ marked on their chests seen during a medical examination in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.(HT Photo)

The police chief of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh ordered a probe on Sunday after photographs surfaced of newly-recruited police constables with markings of ‘SC’, ‘ST’ and ‘OBC’ on their chests during their medical examination, triggering a furore in the police department and administration.

Birendra Kumar Singh, Dhar superintendent of police, said there was no instruction from the police to mention the caste of a candidate on his chest. “An inquiry has been initiated. Those found guilty will be punished,” he added.

The incident came to light at a time when President Ramnath Kovind is on a two-day visit to the state.

State director general of police (DGP) Rishi Kumar Shukla who took cognizance of the matter said it should not have been done but, he added, there was no bad intention behind the move. “It was done as a precautionary measure to ensure that there was transparency in the laid down norms for physical measurements of these categories,” he said.

“I have given instructions to the district police to remove the marking, if any, and to ensure there is no recurrence,” Shukla.

Sources in the health department said the medical examination of the more than 300 recruits to the district police and special armed force in Dhar began at the district government hospital on Wednesday. The ongoing medical examination, mandatory before joining duty, is being conducted by a medical board headed by Dr Sushil Kumar Khare, a civil surgeon at the district hospital.

District officials who did not want to be named explained that apparently ‘SC’ (scheduled caste), ‘ST’ (scheduled tribe) and ‘O’ (OBC) were marked on the chests of male candidates of these categories so as to give them the benefit of the relaxation in selection norms and avoid mixing of one section with another.

People familiar with the medical examination pointed out that a candidate belonging to the general category, OBC and SC should be 168 centimeters in height, while an ST candidate should have a height of 160 centimeters to be eligible for the final selection. Similarly, there is relaxation for ST candidates in the measurement of chest and chest (expansion).

Apparently, none of the candidates lodged a complaint. But photographs of a few candidates with ‘SC’ and ‘ST’ marked on their chests were leaked to a local media person on Saturday. A media report following this led to a flutter in the administration on Sunday.

While Dhar superintendent of police Birendra Kumar Singh denied there were any instructions to do mark the recruits, RC Panika, chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Dhar, said they were looking into the matter to determine how it had happened.

Civil surgeon Dr Khare who is heading the medical board, said it was not done by the health department.

“We conduct medical examination of the candidates who are sent by the police department. The doctors on the board sit in a hall and each candidate is taken before a doctor as per a schedule and he is accompanied by a constable. I pointed out when I saw ‘O’ written on the chest of a candidate. I was told by the police personnel that ‘O’ denoted ‘OBC’. I think it was done by the police department to identify the candidates from different sections and avoid mixing up of the candidates,” said Khare.

Deepak Singh, Dhar collector, said he had assumed charge a few days ago. He was gathering details.

Indresh Gajbhiye, president of the Ambedkar Shodh Sansthan, said such a marking was not only a violation of human rights but also a criminal offence under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. “Such a branding amounted to atrocities on the constables who were subjected to this marking. The guilty must be punished,” he said.

Additional chief secretary (Home), KK Singh, said he was not aware of the incident but would find out from the DGP.

(With input from Chhotu Shastri from Dhar)