India: Off with beards, BJP tells Bhopal prisoners

Bhopal, Nov. 12: Make a clean chin of it, prisoners, your BJP rulers are wary of any unnecessary hair.

And no skullcaps, please — they don’t like them either.

BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh has banned prisoners from sporting beards and wearing skullcaps because they make “identification” of criminals difficult.

The move has enraged both the Muslim and Hindu clergy, who are asking why similar bans haven’t been slapped on passport and driving-licence holders.

In another directive, the Shivraj Singh Chauhan regime has also banned “buffalo fights”, saying they are cruel to the animals, though some residents insist they can’t “abandon the age-old” post-Diwali tradition.

But it’s the ban on beards in jail that has angered many.

Muslim clerics in Bhopal mosques have slammed the move as a “humiliation” for prisoners. In fact, the city is abuzz with rumours that beards of some Muslim prisoners have been forcibly shaved.

Bhopal Central Jail superintendent P.D. Somkunwar confirmed that beards of a few undertrials were shaved off after they were sent to the jail so that the identity of these criminals could be tallied with pictures in police records.