'Sandeshkhali' row revives false '100% Muslim recruitment in West Bengal Police' claim

By: Rahul Adhikari
March 6 2024

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'Sandeshkhali' row revives false '100% Muslim recruitment in West Bengal Police' claim

Social media posts claim that only muslims were recruited in the West Bengal Police. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

Recruitments made by the police were not made on the basis of religion. In fact, most candidates selected across different categories had Hindu names.

Claim ID d3eb3293

What is the claim?

Several users are insinuating on social media that the government of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal gave preference to Muslim candidates in the recent recruitment of police officers. The claim also links the alleged preferential treatment to the recent developments in the Sandeshkhali village, which became a flashpoint in early January when an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team raided the residence of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shahjahan Sheikh.

Viral posts alleging 'Muslim appeasement' by the ruling TMC government in West Bengal have shared a clip of a video report by VK News, an online news channel. In the news segment, the news anchor shows a list claiming that it exhibits the candidates selected by the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board. The anchor claims that all the selected candidates were Muslims. In the video, he says, "Now the question is whether only Muslims had applied for the vacancies. If not, why were only Muslims selected? Do only Muslims live in West Bengal?" He further states that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Parvesh Verma had shared this list on social media and questioned Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the matter. 

Sharing this video, social media users have claimed that "there is not a single Hindu in this list!" They have alleged that this was another example of 'appeasement' politics by the Banerjee-led TMC government, who also purportedly protected Sheikh for a long time. After the ED raid, Sandeshkhali remained tense over rounds of protests and police action on the protesters who alleged that acts of violence and sexual harassment were committed by Sheikh and his associates. 

Archived links to social media posts claiming "100% selection of Muslims in police recruitment" can be accessed here, here, and here. Several of these posts garnered thousands of views and hundreds of likes.

Screenshot of the viral social media posts. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the claim is false as the shared list only shows the list of selected candidates under one category. A few non-Muslims were also selected in the same category, and overall, most of the candidates chosen across categories are Hindus. 

What did we find, and how?

The low resolution of the viral video made the text mentioned in the list in question ineligible for review. We were also unable to trace the original news report shared by VK News. However, taking a cue from the viral claim and VK News' reported coverage, we found a clearer version of the particular list shared by BJP MP Parvesh Verma.

Verma had shared the list on his X account on June 19, 2021. In his post, Verma alleged Mamta Banerjee of orchestrating a 'genocide' in West Bengal. Sharing the same list, several social media users had made similar allegations in 2021 as those leveled in the now-viral claim, confirming that the narrative has been circulating for at least three years.

Screenshot of the post shared by BJP MP Parvesh Verma in 2021. (Source: Screenshot/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

Next, we reviewed the list and found that it shows the names of candidates selected provisionally against 50 'OBC-A' vacancies for sub-inspectors (UB posts) in West Bengal Police. The advertisement for these posts was taken out in 2019, and the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board officially published the list of shortlisted candidates in June 2021. 

The list shared by BJP MP Parvesh Verma mentioned 50 'OBC-A' candidates selected for sub-inspector (UB) post. (Source: Screenshot/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

We then reviewed all the lists published by West Bengal Police for the recruitment of sub-inspectors in 2019. The list of 'OBC-A' candidates selected for the UB posts, the same as shared by Verma, mentions at least two candidates (Soumen Maity and Hriday Biswas) who are most likely non-Muslims, as a cursory look at the names suggests. 
It should be noted that in India, recruitment for most government jobs—central or state—are made under various categories, mostly decided on the basis of the socio-economic status of the people belonging to different communities. Till 2022, jobs were reserved in India for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). In West Bengal, the OBC category is further divided into OBC-A for "More Backward" and OBC-B for "Backward," as stated by the Backward Classes Welfare Department of the Government of West Bengal. 

A review of all the lists of candidates selected under different categories, including the unreserved, suggested that out of the 668 total candidates, at least 567 had non-Muslim (most likely Hindu) names. 

Recruitments against every category were made under two types of posts - Armed Branch (AB) and Unarmed Branch (UB). The West Bengal hence published 10 merit lists, five for Armed Branch against UR, OBC-A, OBC-B, SC, and ST vacancies, and five for Unarmed Branch against UR, OBC-A, OBC-B, SC, and ST vacancies. 

From the ten recruitment lists, only the names chosen against 18 OBC-A vacancies for sub-inspectors (AB) were all Muslim. In fact, four kinds of vacancies, including OBC vacancies for both Armed Branch (AB) and Unarmed Branch, had candidates with only Hindu names. 

Merit lists against OBC-B vacancies for (left) Armed Branch (AB) and (right) Unarmed Branch (UB). (Source: West Bengal Police/Modified by Logically Facts)

It is important to mention that out of the 81 castes listed in West Bengal's OBC-A category, 73 are Muslim. The list of all the castes is available on the official website of the Backward Classes Welfare Department. In the OBC-B category, 45 out of 98 castes were Muslim. It is hence not unusual for some recruitment lists under the OBC categories to be dominated by Muslims. 

A look at all the recruitment made by the West Bengal Police across different categories makes it clear that candidates were selected without any consideration of religion. Any preference given was on the basis of categories decided by socioeconomic status, as is required by provisions of the Indian constitution.

The verdict

The OBC-A merit list for the recruitment of sub-inspectors (UB) in 2019 was shared without full context to falsely claim that only Muslims were recruited by the West Bengal Police recently. The list had a majority of Muslims and a few Hindus due to the dominance of Muslim castes in the OBC-A category. More importantly, most candidates selected across ten different categories were mostly Hindus. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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