May 27, 2018, 11:18 pm IST
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A crown of thorns for the new police chief

A crown of thorns for the new police chief

Hari S Kartha, Jun 23, 2017

With only a week left for the Kerala Police N.P. Sen Kumar to bow out of office, the question who will succeed him as the Director General of Police is being discussed not only among policemen but also politicians and people in general. But whoever becomes the head,, it will be a crown of thorns for him, given the present pathetic state of affairs in the Kerala Police.

Already ego clashes and feuds between top officers are at their worst in the state police. Much of the blame is being put on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan .who directly handles police portfolio for the past one year,

Always in the past, with no exception, in every ministry that had been in office in Kerala, the political boss in charge of the home portfolio received only brickbats. Nevertheless, despite being at the receiving end, there were a few 'strong men' who are remembered even today for the efficient police administration. They include the late K.Karunakaran  and the late P.T.Chacko. both Congress leaders. Also present CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who handled home in the Achuthanandan ministry. though a bit soft, is considered as a good home minister. Even during the first Communist ministry in the state headed by E.M.S.Namboodiripad,the then home minister who won the 1957 elections as a Communist Party supported independent, the late V.R.Krishna Iyer was not free from criticism. In fact Iyer was forced to give up home portfolio in the wake of widespread protests against police firing on cashew workers at Chandanathoppu. Iyer subsequently left active politics and became a legal luminary. But never in Kerala, under any ministry, police administration was as poor as it is today under Pinarayi Vijayan. Reports appearing in the media, day after day, tend to prove that things are beyond control in the  state police.This is sickening considering the fact that Kerala Police had always been in the forefront in efficiency.

In addition to media reports exposing the infighting among top brass of the state police, not only the Kerala High Court but also the Supreme Court of India has passed several strictures on Kerala Police. Significantly, it was on the intervention and strict orders of the Supreme Court that the outgoing police chief Sen Kumar was reinstated. This was much against the wishes of the Chief Minister whose first decision on assuming office, a year ago, was to deny Sen Kumar the DGP's post. Thanks to the Supreme Court order, Pinarayi Vijayan had to swallow the bitter pill even while leaving no stone upturned ensuring that life as police chief is made most miserable for Sen Kumar. Retired police officer Reman Srivatsava who was formerly DGP and also the blue eyed boy of then Congress Chief Minister Karunakaran was in a haste appointed by Pinarayi Vijayan as his adviser on police affairs. obviously in a bid to embarrass Sen Kumar. Sen Kumar's wings were further clipped and Tomin Thachankari involved in several controversies and vigilance cases was elevated to be the de facto chief at the police headquarters. Since then it has been an open war between the two top most officers telling upon the discipline and decorum of the force. Only the other day, the Kerala High Court asked the state government to explain why Thachankary with dubious track record was posted at the police headquarters.

Thachankary was sure to have succeeded Sen Kumar. But much depends on the case involving him now being heard by the high court. Also there are vigilance cases against him. Will a tainted officer, therefore be entrusted with the key assignment, once Sen Kumar is out, is a million dollar question.

Top police officers are now freely expressing their views in public which hit headlines rousing fresh controversies. The latest was when the former Vigilance Chief in the rank of ADGP Jacob Thomas, now heading the Institute of Management in Government told the media that the use of force by police at Puthuvype near Kochi was in no way justified. He said that police should treat the people as "brothers and sisters" and resorting to a lathi charge on them was unethical. Jacob Thomas has been embarrassing the ruling front and the government by his remarks ever since he was asked to step down as vigilance chief. His book "living with whales", narrating his experiences as a police officer, had also roused a controversy. Tomin Thachankary, although he has nothing against the ruling front so far, did not mince words in stating at a public function that policemen should not be treated as domestic servants. Open comments by another police officer of a lesser rank told the police association meeting had also come in for criticism.


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