Oommen Chandy was seen as an affable politician, more tolerant about rants by his officers. One suspects the more stern Vijayan is not cut of the same cloth

Washing dirty khaki on Facebook Kerala police style
Voices Police Transfers Wednesday, June 01, 2016 - 15:03

Something like this would have been unthinkable a few years ago. A top cop being shunted out, putting out a farewell note to the world, hardly disguising his contempt for those who moved him out. But that is precisely what Kerala DGP TP Senkumar did, using the State Police Chief's official Facebook page, that has more than 97000 likes, to pat himself on the back, boasting of his credentials as an officer with honesty and integrity and someone who never did anything wrong in his 35-year-long career. 

And in between, Senkumar let in a line, dripping with sarcasm - ``I still have all my vertebras intact'' - an apparent reference to how he did not bend before anyone to get a plum post. Many in Kerala infer this as a snide reference to his successor, Loknath Behra and a jibe that Behra lobbied to become the Kerala DGP. To be fair to Behra, that is an unfair dig given his credentials - Behra has been IG of Operations at the NIA and had interrogated American terrorist David Coleman Headley; he also investigated the Purulia arms drop case while at the CBI. His stints in Kerala include heading the police force in the politically volatile district of Kannur and the commissionerate at Ernakulam.

That a new government reshuffles its pack of officers is part of the ritual. That Senkumar would be a casualty was certain ever since the numbers indicated a LDF government on May 19. During the election campaign, Senkumar had come in for criticism by present chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the shoddy handling of the Jisha rape and murder case in Perambavoor. Jisha was a law student who was found raped and killed in Ernakulam district last month. The appointment of Additional DGP B Sandhya to head the probe team soon after Vijayan took over was an indication to Senkumar that his time was up because all this while, the DGP had maintained that the ``investigation team was doing good professional work.''

The gun was trained at Senkumar even before Vijayan took over. VS Achuthanandan had taken the DGP to the cleaners this February, criticising the law and order situation in Kerala. ``When goons go berserk all over Kerala, DGP is playing with his Facebook page. Is it for this that he is hanging his IPS badge?'' In a taunt that was trademark VS, the Marxist leader suggested that Senkumar's designation should be changed to DGP (Facebook) instead of DGP (Law and Order). It is a different matter that two months later, VS himself launched himself on social media and promoted himself aggressively in the online space.

From what one hears in the corridors of power in Thiruvananthapuram, Senkumar who is due to retire only in June 2017, is displeased with what is clearly a demotion to a loopline posting. He has been sent to head the Kerala Police Housing Construction Corporation, infamous as a doghouse posting in police circles. Incidentally, the post was previously held by Senkumar's bete noire, Jacob Thomas, with whom he had a running public spat. 

The Senkumar vs Thomas battle -that featured chief minister Oommen Chandy in the supporting cast- was ugly. Thomas exulted when the Vigilance court ordered further probe against former Finance minister KM Mani in the bar bribery case last year, exclaiming ``truth will emerge the winner'' following which Senkumar on Facebook - Yes, on Facebook - wrote that such statements are a violation of All India Service Rules. Advising Thomas to do an Arvind Kejriwal, if his moral indignation against corruption is beyond a particular level, Senkumar stopped short of asking his colleague to get out. This was God's own men in uniform washing their dirty khaki in public.

Thomas who was also posted as the chief of the Fire Services department refused No Objection certificates to 50 buildings, following which he was removed from the post. Thomas alleged he was removed under pressure from the builder lobby, whose members he claimed had met Chandy. Frustrated with receiving show cause notices for speaking to the media against the UDF government, Thomas did the unthinkable. He wrote to the Chief Secretary, asking for permission to move legally against Chandy. 

Now Thomas is back as Vigilance chief and would have a say in the investigation into some of the controversial corruption cases that dogged the previous UDF government. Wonder if the show cause notices that were served to him, would also be consigned to the dustbin. 

Oommen Chandy was seen as an affable politician, more tolerant about rants by his officers. One suspects the more stern Vijayan is not cut of the same cloth and isn't likely to tolerate officers overstepping the line. A private classroom session on vertebrae may just be coming Senkumar's way. 

P.S. The last time I checked, TP Senkumar has not sent Pinarayi Vijayan a friend request on Facebook. Their relationship status remains : It's complicated.

TP Senkumar's FB post:

To all my readers

This may be my last Facebook post as SPC of Kerala. This Facebook page was created with an intention to have continuous and mutual beneficial interaction. Due to some of the exigencies, this may not have been fully possible. However, I have to thank you for all the suggestions and reactions. I have joined as an IES officer in the Government of India in 1981, before joining IPS. During the last 35 years I have always kept honesty, integrity and justice and a special care for the downtrodden. I still have all my vertebras intact. I have never appeased anybody for any posting. I have always tried to be impartial and fair.

I can leave this place with full satisfaction that in my entire service career I have never asked any subordinate officer to do anything illegal. I have never allowed in my knowledge to arrest an innocent and pad up evidences. I hope this is the greatest satisfaction that a police officer can get. I have always resisted illegitimate interference.

So Thank you all!