“Are you drunk? You are talking and behaving as if you are drunk?”. This was what Kerala’s former Director General of Police, TP Senkumar had to say to a journalist who asked him a few uncomfortable questions at a press meet.
Senkumar and the chairman of the Spices Board and Mavelikkara union president of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) Subhash Vasu, had called for a press meet on Thursday to expose alleged corruption by SNDP chief Vellappally Natesan. An hour into the press meet, a journalist named Kadavil Rasheed asked Senkumar why he hadn’t probed Vellappally when he was the state’s DGP. When Rasheed persisted, Senkumar grew visibly agitated.
As a follow-up question, Rasheed asked Senkumar’s reaction to Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala’s statement that it was a mistake to have appointed him as DGP during the Congress regime. After retirement, Senkumar had become a vocal BJP supporter and has on many occasions been criticised for his communal comments, especially about Muslims.
When Rasheed asked him about Chennithala, Senkumar immediately said menacingly, “Tell me your name first.” When Rasheed retorted that he was not obliged to, Senkumar started a tirade. “Are you a journalist? Leave this place, I am addressing journalists here. If you have guts, come to the stage and talk. Come here, come here,” he can be heard saying even as Rasheed says that he is a journalist with state accreditation.
Senkumar then said, ‘Catch him’, addressing his supporters at the gathering. During this time, Rasheed who was seated somewhere in the back of the room, came near the dais and showed his accreditation. Then, Senkumar accused Rasheed of being drunk. He can be heard saying, “Are you drunk? You are behaving and talking like it.”
Even as other journalists in the room can be heard objecting to this behaviour, a couple of men shoved Rasheed and tried to push him out of the room. When more journalists protested, Senkumar asked the men to let Rasheed be and then asked him to repeat his question. When Rasheed did that, Senkumar claimed that he has already reacted to Chennithala’s comments. He then insults Rasheed again saying, “A journalist with basic intelligence should know the news developments of each day.”
Rasheed told news portal Asiaville that he had been undergoing treatment for cancer for the last few months which is why his speech was slurred.
The Press Club and Kerala Union of Working Journalists have condemned Senkumar’s actions.