In the video, officials of Cherupuzha police can be seen using crass and abusive words against streetside vendors who were preparing to vacate the spot.

Screenshot of police officials of Cherupuha police station standing in front of streetside fruit sellersScreen grab
news Controversy Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 12:17

Kerala State Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a video being shared widely on social media that showed officials of Kannur police abusing streetside vendors. The rights panel has sought a report from the Kannur Superintendent of police on the same. The rights panel has asked the Circle Inspector of Cherupuzha Police station, who is seen in the video, to give an explanation for his actions within three weeks.

In the video, a few police officers can be seen getting down from the police vehicle and asking streetside vendors selling fruits to move out of the place. A police officer, whose face is not visible in the video, can be heard saying, “Other shop keepers are creating an issue, there will be a tussle here."

Following this, in the video, which is an edited version of a longer video, one of the fruit sellers can be heard asking the police not to touch him, and that he will vacate the place on his own. Following this, one of the police officials abuses the fruit seller who can be heard responding immediately, asking the official not to abuse him. However, irked by his reaction, the police officer can be heard questioning the sellers and then goes on to abuse them. At one point in the video, the police officer also seems to push the person who is recording the video, asking, “What will you do if I use bad words?” and then goes on to abuse him.

“The street side vendors were preparing to leave from the place as per the directions from the police. But without any provocation, the Cherupuzha Circle Inspector (CI) behaved badly with them. He (the officer) should be sent to the police academy and taught the provisions of the Police Act,” said P Mohandas, a judicial member of the State Human Rights Commission, taking suo motu cognisance of the issue.

The Kannur Police Chief has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the Cherupuzha CI’s behaviour and submit a report within three weeks.

The suo motu proceedings were initiated after the rights panel noticed a Facebook post uploaded by activist and advocate Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi. In the post, Harish had stated that a probe should be initiated into the incident and that a case should be registered against the officer and he should be ousted from service if found guilty.

Watch Harish's video here:

The rights panel also observed that the Kerala High Court had ordered that streetside vendors should be regulated, but this was not the way it should have been done. “It has been defined specifically in the (Kerala) Police Act how a police officer should behave. But Cherupuzha CI did not abide by this,” the Commission said. The panel also observed that if this is the way police behave then, the recently brought law in the Act -- Section 118A -- should be definitely reconsidered.

Also read: Kerala govt to withdraw controversial Section 118A via ordinance

Earlier in March, Kannur police chief Yatish Chandra was himself caught in a row after he made a few people, who violated lockdown regulations, perform squats as punishment. The Human Rights Commission had then too ordered a probe into the incident.

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