S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar is a passionate photographer of birds and spends many mornings patrolling beaches looking for subjects to shoot.

This Kerala top cop has never missed a shot His photos have won him much acclaim
Features Human interest Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 17:35
Written by  K Praveen Kumar

S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar IPS stays very still – even the smallest movement could alert his target and that is the last thing he wants. The Kozhikode Commissioner of Police has waited for this moment for a long, long time.

Kaliraj isn’t carrying his service revolver with him. His weapon of choice here is his Nikon D 7000 camera and his target is an Indian Golden Oriole.

His photography skills caught his subordinates’ attention and 12 of his photos were selected as the main images of the 2018 calendar brought out by the Kozhikode City Police Employees Cooperative Society.

Kaliraj may look like every inch the tough cop, but inside beats the heart of an artist. When this 2005 batch IPS officer from Jammu and Kashmir cadre got injured in a terror attack, he got transferred to south India.

After a short stint in the Tamil Nadu police, he got transferred to Kerala. His comparatively peaceful stint here allowed him to explore his passion for photography to the fullest. Now, he spends his morning, patrolling the beaches and green spaces of this Kerala town looking for candid shots of birds.

This walk also doubles as an unofficial survey of the city – helping him understand Kozhikode and its crime rates better.

“It is a great stress buster and my morning expedition helps me understand my district better. Now I am very familiar with its topography,” Kaliraj says.

Photo taken by S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar 

Photography isn’t a new hobby that Kaliraj picked up in a bid to get over the harrowing terror attack he faced. “I got awards for being the best photographer in my batch in 2005 itself. I always had a passion for photography. It helps me cope with my work pressure,” he says.

The patience needed to capture his winged subjects also helps him handle pressure situations and allow for faster decision making, he adds.

However, due to his busy schedule, he finds little time to edit his photographs. “Because my day is so packed, I do not get the time to edit my photos. So what most people see are the raw pictures I shoot. Photography becomes a more relaxed exercise for me when I go out of station on training assignments,” says Kaliraj.

But does photography make Kaliraj a soft police officer?

“This is a tough job – there is no space for sentiments and emotion. We face tough situations all the time that need to be handled in a tough way. Photography refreshes my mind, and gives the clarity and mental peace to look at things differently. Also, it feels good to see my photos printed on something and it is nice to listen to people talk about it,” he says. 

Photo taken by S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar 

His hobby has already allowed him to travel the length and breadth of the district. One of his favourite photos is that two Common Greenshanks in Marad – which was torn by communal violence in 2003.

He tries travelling to sensitive coastal areas and former havens for anti-social activities to take photos. With his camera in tow, Kaliraj is doing a kind of patrolling very different to his lathi-wielding colleagues.