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23 Nov, 2019 07:47

‘Unbiased’ look for cops? Indian police ax order for Muslim officers to SHAVE OFF BEARDS after backlash

‘Unbiased’ look for cops? Indian police ax order for Muslim officers to SHAVE OFF BEARDS after backlash

A police station in India stepped into controversy after it told some of its Muslim officers to get rid of their beards, prompting outrage among the local Muslim community.

Police in the town of Alwar, around 150km from New Delhi, issued the now-revoked beard-shaving order on Thursday. Superintendent of Police Anil Paris Deshmukh told reporters that 32 Muslim officers were initially given permission to grow beards but later nine of them were stripped of their ‘beard privileges.’

Deshmukh did not go into details of why some of the officers were effectively told to shave off facial hair, aside from saying that police should be impartial in carrying out their duties.

It’s not enough for policemen to work in an unbiased manner, they should also look unbiased.

The decision quickly sparked backlash from the local Muslim community. Sher Mohammed, the leader of Alwar’s Muslim group, told the Times of India that the beard-shaving directive was “deplorable,” and called for the police to scrap the “erroneous instruction” because it doesn’t respect religious traditions.

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The order to shave the beards was revoked the next day. It was done “in view of representations given by the aggrieved policemen,” Desmukh said – again, without giving much explanation.

Police departments in India can allow the officers to grow beards on an individual basis for religious reasons. The issue has led to controversies in the past. In 2016, a Muslim officer was permitted not to shave while observing Ramadan but a request to keep the beard permanently was denied. He later filed a court case, arguing that this violated his constitutional rights.

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