Visible signs of religion would make the police personnel look biased in certain occasions, which is exactly what the senior police officials want to avoid.

Bengaluru cops told to avoid wearing religious symbols like sacred threads to appear neutral
news Police Sunday, April 09, 2017 - 09:07

In order to make Bengaluru police personnel appear "neutral" and not biased, top officials have reportedly asked them not to have any visible signs of their religion on their bodies. 

Kiran Parashar KM reports for The New Indian Express that a circular issued by the City Police Commissionarate asks the police personnel to avoid using religion symbols including sacred ash, vermilion, sacred thread and ear studs.

The report states that the circular was issued on April 5 and is particularly addressed to civil and city armed reserve police. Visible signs of religion would make the police personnel look biased in certain occasions, which is exactly what the senior police officials want to avoid. 

According to the report, senior officials have been directed to warn the personnel of action if the directive is not adhered to. Apart from warning against wearing religious symbols, the circular also reportedly asks the personnel to wear their uniforms properly and maintain other etiquette including wearing polished shoe and getting a hair-cut on time.

D Kishore Babu, Deputy Commissioner of Police (VVIP security) was quoted as saying that the purpose of the asking the police personnel to avoid using religious symbols was to make them appear neutral and not biased. 

"The circular has been issued in view of maintaining discipline as per the rule book. Being in disciplined force, we should all look neutral," he was quoted as saying. 

The reports states that the circular makes no reference to women police personnel. 

An unnamed senior police official told TNIE that although the police manual prevents women police personnel from wearing vermilion or bangles, it isn't being followed, as it was "not socially acceptable." 

It is not just the Bengaluru police who seem to be conscious about the manner in which the public perceives them. 

In August last year, a civil police personnel in Kerala had petitioned to the High Court to be given permission to sport a beard. 

K. Riyas, who was then posted at the Armed Reserve Camp at Ernakulam, moved the HC after the state's police chief refused to grant him permission to do so. The DGP had cited the police manual, which did not allow police personnel to grow a beard.

However, Riyas had argued that the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy personnel were allowed to grow beard on religious grounds, and so he must be allowed to sport a beard during Ramzan.

Riyas argued his case exerting Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that states that "all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise, and propagate religion." 

However, Minister for Local Administration K T Jaleel had then said that police officials should not be allowed to display any religious symbols.

"It is not compulsory in Islam to sport a beard. However, it is believed that sporting a beard is 'Sunnah.'  However, religious symbols should not be introduced in police force," he had said. 

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