According to reports, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that some police officers passed on vital information regarding the force’s plan of action to RSS during the confrontation at Sabarimala.


New Delhi: In Kerala, Sabarimala is not an obsession with the BJP alone. Ruling Marxists too can’t get over their misadventure last year involving entry of women of all ages at the Ayyappa shrine there. Recalling those days, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last week accused his own police of working hand in glove with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in sabotaging government efforts to allow young women worship at the temple. The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement last September, had removed restrictions on women of menstruating age to enter the temple at Sabarimala. Though the court had set no specific deadline in implementing the verdict, the Left Front government, hoping to cash in on politically, went overboard, inviting the wrath of women belonging to the Hindu community; something the ruling party never expected. The mayhem that followed brought the state to a standstill for over four months, before sanctity prevailed on the part of the government and the protesters. The Left Front paid for its fiasco in the last general elections when it was practically wiped out from the Lok Sabha. The Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister, took on his government’s frustrations on his police force last week at a meeting of senior officers in the presence of the state DGP, Loknath Behera, a known lackey of the Left.

According to reports, the Chief Minister said that some police officers passed on vital information regarding the force’s plan of action to RSS during the confrontation at Sabarimala. “Some police officers were working like agents of the RSS and doing their bidding”, Vijayan said, adding “the police behaved like Naranath Branthan when women from Tamil organisation Manithi Sangam came for darshan at the shrine.” Naranath Branthan (Mad Man of Naranam) is a divine character in Malayalam folklore, whose chief activity consisted of pushing a big stone up the hill and then letting it roll back, laughing all the while. Vijayan’s analogy, though farfetched, since “Branthan” was depicting the futility of life, was to the incident when the police escorted a group of women activists from the radical Tamil Manithi Sangam up the hill and then abandoned them when a large number of Lord Ayyappa devotees blocked their way. Deserted by the police, the Sangam members had to scramble for their own safety from the angry devotees. It was a huge embarrassment for the Kerala police. At that time itself Vijayan had alleged that the RSS was trying to turn Sabarimala into a conflict zone like that of Ayodhya. However, at no time during those turbulent months did the Chief Minister accuse his police force of helping RSS cadre in their resistance.

Pinarayi Vijayan.

The timing of Vijayan’s criticism of the police is interesting since the Left was routed in the elections and everybody knows that Sabarimala was one of the main reasons for the drubbing. But what is more interesting is the sermonising on the evils of politicisation of the police has come from none other than someone who has all along presided over his party’s efforts in turning the force into CPM Red volunteers. At the meeting the CM had said to have asked how many of the officers could honestly say they did not sabotage the government plan in Sabarimala. He said some of them had even gone on leave in order to avoid Sabarimala duty. This was very unfair on the part of the Chief Minister. He should have asked himself how his party, ever since 1979 when unionisation of the force was given permission, had turned the state police force into a highly politicised body, mostly controlled by the CPM. In Kerala, there are mainly four associations representing the force. The largest, Kerala Police Association (KPA), mainly comprises ordinary policemen and women. The Kerala Police Officers’ Association represents ASIs, SIs and CIs. Service Officers’ Association members include DYSPs and non-IPS officers. Then there is the IPS Association which includes heavyweight officers and hogs most of the limelight by its open confrontation with the IAS lobby in the state. It is the KPA and the Officers’ Association which publicly demonstrate their political leanings, mostly towards the Left, though there are exceptions when the associations come under Congress control. “Saffronisation” is a latecomer, but there is no denial that an undercurrent of Hindutva runs deep in the force.

Before blaming the police for what happened at Sabarimala, the Chief Minister, as Home Minister, should have tried to understand what is wrong with his force right now. So many incidents of police atrocities have come to light after the Left Front came to power, including a number of custodial deaths. It is common belief that the police is acting at the behest of its political masters. Each time an incident happens, one leader or the other springs up in defence of the accused police personnel. No one seems to find out why such things happen, especially whenever the Left comes to power. Instead, the Chief Minister describes each incident as an isolated one or slips into the usual refrain “what happened…should not have happened”. The net result is “isolated” incidents keep happening again and again. Politicians should stop policing the police. In today’s Kerala that should begin from AKG Centre, CPM headquarters in state capital Thiruvananthapuram. The RSS can come later.

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