The West Bengal Police Recruitment Board (WBPRB) announced the final result of the 2019 Recruitment to the post of Sub-Inspector (Armed Branch and Unarmed Branch) Exam on June 18, 2021. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Madhya Pradesh state president Vaibhav Pawar tweeted a list of 50 selected candidates. A majority of the candidates on the list are Muslims. “Mamata Banerjee is ensuring (West Bengal) transforms into Pakistan,” he wrote.

One Subuhi Khan who describes herself as ‘Sanatani Muslim’ tweeted the same list, gathering replies such as “this is Bangladesh police recruitment”.

Another user Atul Ahuja, followed by BJP leaders Piyush Goyal, Kapil Mishra and Tajinder Bagga, sarcastically wrote, “There is discrimination against Muslims in India ~ The Wire, BBC, NDTV, The Wall Street Journal.”

A plethora of other users – Kalpana Srivastav, Sameet Thakkar and Minty Sharma – alluded that a majority of candidates recruited as sub-inspectors in West Bengal police hail from the Muslim community. The list is also widespread on Facebook.

Misleading claim

The list widespread on social media is the list of candidates provisionally selected against OBC (Other Backward Classe)-A vacancies. The website of the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board (WBPRB) has two lists for each vacancy (10 lists in total). One of the lists with a majority of Muslim names has been cherry-picked to falsely portray that WBPRB has only selected Muslim candidates. The lists of provincially selected candidates against SC reservation has 147 names (1 and 2) and the lists against ST reservation has 40 names (1 and 2). It is noteworthy that Muslims are not eligible for SC and ST reservations. Furthermore, there are 366 provincially selected candidates against the UR (Unreserved) category (1 and 2) and a majority of them are Hindus.

‘OBC-A vacancies’ is visible upon a careful look at the list shared on social media.

This list is available on the website of WBPRB and indeed has 50 names, most of which are Muslims. The second list of 18 candidates provisionally selected against OBC-A vacancies also shows that most candidates are Muslims.

OBCs are classified into two categories in West Bengal. “Those who are socially and economically better off are in the OBC-B category and the rest are in the OBC-A category,” former West Bengal Commission for Other Backward Classes chairperson Ashim Banerjee had explained.

“Category A is called ‘More Backward’ and enjoys 10 per cent reservation, while Category B is called ‘Backward’ and enjoys 7 per cent reservation — thus increasing the total OBC reservation in the state to 17 per cent,” according to The Quint.

WBPRB announced separate lists (1 and 2) of candidates provincially selected against OBC-B vacancies where a majority of the names are Hindus.

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The West Bengal government recognises 170 OBC communities, out of which 112 are Muslim. The OBC quota in the state has been expanded by successive Left and TMC governments. According to The Quint, 97 per cent of Muslims in West Bengal fall under the OBC quota. This has led the BJP to claim for some years now that Muslims have disproportionately gained from OBC reservations. The party also attacked the TMC government ahead of the assembly elections this year for Muslim “appeasement”.

However, Muslims do not make the cut to avail reservation in the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) categories. Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in paragraph 2, no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu [the Sikh or the Buddhist] religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.”

Last year, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde had “called the social exclusion of Christians and Muslims from the SC and ST backgrounds a pertinent issue that requires the Supreme Court’s consideration.” He made the observation after the National Council of Dalit Christians’ (NCDC) petitioned that religion should not be a consideration for the SC/ST status.

To come back to the misinformation widespread on social media, a false narrative was manufactured by sharing the OBC-A list to claim only Muslims were selected by WBPRB. But there are nine other lists that show that a majority of selected candidates hail from the Hindu community.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.