Politicians' should be shown adequate respect, but it does not happen all the time, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on the floor of the House on Monday. He was responding to widespread criticism against the manner in which a young woman IPS officer was taken to task by his government after she searched the CPI (M) district office in Thiruvananthapuram last week.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Chaitra Teresa John last week searched the district office of Communist Party of India-Marxist in Thiruvananthapuram in connection with a stone throwing case at a police station in which youth cadres of the Left party were involved. DYFI workers had gathered outside the station demanding to meet two sympathisers who had been arrested in a case of child sexual abuse. When the police personnel in the Medical College station refused to entertain their demand, the DYFI men threw stones and raised slogans.
She had raided the office on a tip-off that those involved were hiding in the CPI (M) district office. However, she could not find anyone there.
Soon after the search operation, Vijayan, who also holds the Home portfolio, summoned John.
This prompted the Congress-led opposition to slam Vijayan for not appreciating the boldness of the young officer and instead removing her, especially when the chief minister was always speaking about gender justice.
In his statement in the Assembly, the chief minister said that the police officer in charge of the station had refused permission to see the two accused. "When the permission was rejected, more people started gathering outside the police station. They shouted slogans and in the event that followed, window panes of the station were broken," he said.
The CM acknowledges that Chaitra Teresa John raided the district committee office to nab the people behind the incident at the police station. However, he says, that according to convention, offices of political parties are not subjected to such raids. "The freedom of political parties to work independently is a basic tenet of a democratic society. Normally in the state, political leaders cooperate with police officers during investigations." Pinarayi then goes on to say that for democracy to function smoothly, it is important to ensure that party officers work without obstacles.
The CM then says that it is the duty of the police to protect institutions like political party offices.
He then blamed the DCP for falling prey to a narrative against politicians. "There has always been an attempt to project politicians in poor light. There have been instances of a rare few falling for such tendencies. A democratic society can advance only if such outlooks are rectified," said Vijayan.
"The CPI (M) district secretary has given a complaint regarding the raid. When responsible leaders of political parties lodge complaints, it's the duty of the government to look it into it seriously. The DGP therefore was instructed to launch an inquiry into the complaint against the officer," he added.
Earlier in the day, Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham, who probed John's action, submitted a report to Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra, giving Chaitra Teresa John a clean chit.
She had followed all the required protocol before conducting such an operation, the report said.
The CPI(M) leadership here has been upset with John after she took a strong stand against eight state government employees belonging to a Left union, who have since been in jail for vandalising a State Bank of India branch here on January 9, during a nationwide strike.
The issue though has come to rest as she returned to the post of Superintendent of Police (Women's Cell).