As criticism swirls around the Kerala police for mishandling the hartal declared by Sabarimala Karma Samithi workers last Thursday, Kozhikode seems to be facing the most heat. The hartal was supported by the BJP, while a state-wide union of shopkeepers, the Vyaapari Vyavasaaya Ekopana Samithi (VVES) had refused to acknowledge the ban. This disagreement between pro-hartal protesters and defiant shopkeepers led to clashes in many parts of the state, including on the shopping street SM Street in Kozhikode.
Top police officials in Kozhikode have reportedly been shuffled from their posts, allegedly due to their mismanagement of the law and order situation last Thursday, reports Onmanorama. Kozhikode city Police Commissioner S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar is to be replaced by headquarters DIG K Sanjay Kumar Gurudin.
Onmanorama further reports that Kozhikode City Deputy Commissioner KM Tomy has received a promotion, and will be posted as District Police Chief of Alappuzha. Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) SP James Joseph will soon be made Deputy Police Commissioner of Kozhikode.
Mathrubhumi reports that Kozhikode came under particular fire for the violence that broke out at SM Street, where BJP-aligned workers allegedly attacked shops that remained open in defiance of the ban, while LDF-aligned workers allegedly gave protection to the opened shops and got into confrontations with the BJP workers on the scene. The tense situation there had led to the windows of several storefronts being broken, and caused police to use tear gas to clear the area, all of which took place in the presence of then City Police Commissioner Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar.
Mathrubhumiâ€™s report on the issue says that â€śpolice officers point out that the Commissionerâ€™s action paved way for hartal supporters to create chaos just like in North India and that his strategies were a failure.â€ť Onmanorama further reports that a disgruntled cop posted at SM Street on the day of the violent hartal had published a post on Facebook regarding his unpleasant experience there.
S Surendran, currently DIG Intelligence, has also been transferred to Thiruvananthapuram where he will be City Commissioner and DIG, replacing current City Commissioner P Prakash, who will not become DIG of Armed Battalion.
Several were wounded and violence broke out in numerous locations all over the state during the hartal last Thursday including at Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kannur, Kasaragod, Thrissur, Nedumangad and Palakkad.