Sub-inspector in Uttar Pradesh Police, Intesar Ali, has been suspended and sent to the police lines. While sporting flowing beard is against the service rules, the authority used to turn a blind eye to violations of the rule by some Muslim policemen ― or issue a warning for the sake of it but not take action if the offender paid no heed to the notice ― until the inception of the Yogi Adityanath government in the state.
Ali had been warned thrice to shave off or seek requisite permission for the same. However, the policeman did not seek permission and continued to keep the beard. Baghpat police superintendent Abhishek Singh ordered Ali’s suspension on 21 October.
SP Baghpat Abhishek Singh said that, as per the police manual, only Sikhs are allowed to keep a beard while all other policemen have to remain clean-shaven.
“If any police personnel want to keep a beard, he has to seek permission for the same. Intesar Ali was repeatedly asked to seek permission but he did not comply. He kept the beard without permission,” the SP said.
The Baghpat police added in a statement, “Intesar Ali was earlier served with a notice for not following uniform protocol and trimming beard in the past. Despite this, Ali continued to flout dress code norms without any permission from the concerned authorities/irresponsibility towards his duties.”
Ali insisted he has been trying to seek permission for keeping the beard since December but to no avail.
The sub-inspector admitted that his seniors had told him to trim his beard multiple times since last year, but added, “I joined as a constable in 1994. At the time, I had a light beard. But over the last couple of years, I have always had a beard of this length. I had gone to ask for leave last year, and the SP at the time, Pratap Gopendra Yadav, questioned me over my beard. I have had postings in other places too, over so many years of service, but nobody has ever stopped me. I had given a letter seeking permission too, but I still haven’t got it.”
Maulana Zulfikar, the state president of All India Imams’ Association, called Ali’s suspension a violation of his right to practice his religion as per the constitution. “Beard is associated with Islam and, therefore, Ali has the right to grow it.”
This is not accurate. Among the various diktats of Islam, sporting a beard is not regarded compulsory. While clerics follow both mandatory and optional codes, many average Muslims don’t abide by the latter. If a given Muslim is a fundamentalist Barelvi, however, a fistful of beard is a must.
Ali had joined the police force as sub-inspector and was posted in Baghpat for the past three years.