Stop caste kitchens: CM to cops
Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday directed the state police brass to immediately stop the practice of separate kitchens based on caste and community in the police lines .
The practice is prevalent in all police lines across the state. In the Patna police lines, for instance, there are 10 barracks and there are separate kitchens for policemen belonging to upper castes, backward castes, Scheduled Castes and Muslims.
"Please ensure that this practice is abolished with immediate effect," Nitish said during the concluding function of Bihar police week celebrations here. "A police force that is divided on caste lines cannot be expected to work in unison."
In the audience were Bihar's senior policemen and officers including director-general of police (DGP) P.K. Thakur.
Nitish told the police to develop a mechanism to run the kitchens on the basis of number of cops attached to the police lines at a given time. He also asked the police brass to be ready to face some resistance in the move to abolish separate kitchens, adding: "Don't budge, come what may."
This is not the first time the chief minister has taken umbrage at the practice of separate kitchens; he had given a similar instruction to the then DGP Ashish Ranjan Sinha in 2006, but the chief minister's orders were not carried out.
"I do remember how my directive was ignored at that time and I too somehow failed to follow it up. I don't want a repetition of that this time from the present DGP," said the chief minister.
The state's top police officers have an uphill task ahead if they want to seriously implement what the chief minister said.
"The system of caste kitchens has been there for decades," said a cop posted at Patna police lines after listening to Nitish's diktat. "I don't think that it can be abolished by such directives."
Nitish also told the police to be prepared to ensure effective implementation of partial prohibition, which will come into effect from April 1 this year.
"No laxity will be tolerated," he warned.
Underlining how serious his government is on the issue, Nitish informed the cops that his government would introduce a bill in the current session of the state legislature to amend rules dealing with liquor and would bring in a law that would have the provision of death penalty for those found to be making illegal liquor that leads to any consumer's death.
A round-the-clock control room and helpline would be set up in the office of the DGP for people to share information about those who make illicit liquor after partial prohibition is enforced.
Nitish directed the cops to purchase a helicopter for Bihar police within six months - something he had told them earlier in his law and order review meetings - and equip police stations with amenities so that women officers don't face any problems.
On Saturday in the Assembly, while announcing major structural changes in the police, Nitish had said: "The government has reserved 30 per cent seats in police service for women. The state will in a very short period of time see the police stations equitably manned by men and women. Bihar is the first state that will have a gender-sensitive police system. The empowerment of women would eventually lead to the making of a decent society." Bihar is the first state that will have a gender-sensitive police system."
At the police week event on Sunday, the chief minister conferred laurels on meritorious police personnel. Awards were also given to participants for the events organised during the police week celebrations.