New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) Police's role often doesn't end with busting crime and jailing criminals. In a first of its kind initiative, Delhi Police has begun a coaching centre for students from economically weaker sections, particularly Muslims, to help them prepare for competitive examinations.
The centre housed in the Jamia Nagar police station will provide free tutoring for competitive exams to students who cannot afford the high fees demanded by coaching centres. It is to start in May this year.
"The motive behind opening of a coaching centre for the aspirants, especially Muslims, is to encourage them for competitive examinations," Ajay Chaudhry, Additional Commissioner of Police, told IANS.
"We are trying to change their assumption that they cannot get government jobs," he added.
The police station already has a library-cum-counselling centre for the aspirants which has been operational since Feb 22 and sees around 25-30 students every day.
"We have been running a free-of-cost library in the premises in coordination with an NGO, Shikhar, which has been working for more than 12 years to provide better education, especially to the girls from weak minority sections," said Chaudhry.
He said the initiative was also an effort to promote trust and harmony between the police and residents of Jamia Nagar, which witnessed the 2008 Batla House shootout. On Sep 19, 2008, two alleged Indian Mujahideen members and a police officer were killed in a shootout at the Batla House. The suspected militants were said to have been involved in the Delhi serial bomb blasts on Sep 13, 2008.
It has been alleged that the shootout was a stage-managed affair.
"The encounter has painted a wrong picture of the police among residents here (Jamia Nagar) and we want them to open up with us and not be scared of us," said Chaudhry.
According to Nadeem Akhtar, secratary of Shikhar, the aim is also to focus on school dropouts and girls.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police have provided furniture for the library where the coaching centre is to be set up, while Shikhar would take care of the expenditure.
"We'll be hiring two to three teachers to help the students in cracking the SSC (Staff Selection Commission), banking and other entrance exams," said Chaudhry.
If the response is positive, there are plans of expansion and the police may hire one or two more rooms outside the police station, said Chaudhry.
The station house officer of the Jamia Nagar police station Satyavir Singh Daggar is upbeat about the idea.
"The starting of the coaching centre will encourage the community and it will also act as an interface between the people and police. It will also help in building a better image of police," Daggar told IANS.
The initiative has also got a thumbs up from the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) which has pledged its support.
"We will provide as much funds as possible to support this noble initiative," DMC Chairman Safdar H. Khan told IANS.
The students visiting the library regularly were obviously gung-ho about the initiative.
"I come here every day as I can read newspapers, magazines and books without spending a single rupee. If the free coaching centre comes up it will surely help me and my friends realize our dreams," said Hemraj Kumar, 19, resident of Jamia Nagar.
Abida, also a regular at the library, said: "I want to study but my parents cannot afford my education expenditure. If the coaching centre opens here, I would be the first student."
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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