Bihar Police: United in khaki, divided by caste barracks

FP

When they are in uniform and on duty, they are constables of Bihar Police, responsible for protecting the life and liberty of people across caste and community divides in a state that had gained notoriety for its lawlessness. But when they return to their barracks, they are Yadavs, Bhumihars, Brahmins, Paswans, Rajputs, Muslims, SCs and STs. They live and sleep in areas segregated on the basis of caste and community and eat from kitchens earmarked on the same lines.

The reputation of the Bihar Police to fight crime and maintain peace may have begun to slowly change for the better in recent years, but the force has not been able to get rid of its deeply entrenched caste divisions despite attempts by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, The Sunday Express has found. In 2006, Kumar had ordered the then home secretary Hem Chandra Sirohi to "dismantle caste barracks and kitchens in police lines", but nothing happened after a preliminary inquiry.

About 30,000 constables and head constables of the total force of 70,000 live in barracks across 40 police districts in the state. And officers admit that caste divisions are a reality in most barracks where the constables have the luxury of even a little space to create segregated areas. Nowhere is this more stark than at the Patna Police Lines barracks, a decrepit complex of large halls that is home to about 3,000 constables.

The complex has 14 barracks with each measuring 75 ft x 20 ft. Barrack 1 is shared by Bhumihar, Yadav and Paswan constables. Metal trunks containing the constables' belongings are lined inside from wall to wall to separate the three caste areas and the areas have their own entrances. Barrack 2 is for Bhumihars and Brahmins, 3 for Bhumihars and Rajputs, 4 for Rajputs, 5 for Rajputs and Brahmins, 6 for Muslims and OBCs, 7 for Brahmins, Rajputs and Bhumihars, 8 for Muslims and Bhumihars, 9 for Yadavs and other OBCs and 10 for Rajputs, Brahmins and Muslims.

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