A photo of IPS officer Rishiraj Singh sitting while all his colleagues stand up and salute Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has gone viral on social media with many Malayalis supporting the defiant act of the IPS officer from Rajasthan.
The Kerala government, led by the Congress Party, has been grappling with the question of how to deal with the 1985 Kerala cadre officeer for some time.
Singh is known for his adamant and often uncompromising approach to duty, and has a reputation for instilling discipline whereever he is posted.
Over the last few years, Singh has served as superintendent of police in most districts in Kerala and as police commissioner in many of its cities.
His uncompromising stance and his large handle-bar mustache has earned him the nickname of ‘puli’ (tiger) among Malayalis.
Many Malayalis see in his apparent act of defiance someone who shares their ideal of an upright human being who bends before no one except the law.
“I like this,” said Facebook user Libin Jose, under a photo shared by Manorama Online. “So far, I’ve only seen such manly police officers only in films. Big salute, Rishiraj Singh sir!” The comment, not surprisingly, was ‘liked’ 1,675 times.
In all, 16,222 people liked Manorama’s photo and 2,353 people shared it.
Rishiraj Singh also has a fan page on Facebook, which has been liked by 217,000 people.
The reason for the outpouring of support for Singh are twofold.
Firstly, many Malayalis are yet to come to terms with the Congress Party’s recent victory in the Aruvikkara bypoll. The Congress won the bypoll despite losing a large chunk of its voteshare as the BJP, which has never been a credible force in the state, managed to cut into the opposition Left parties’ votes.
Secondly, Rishiraj Singh has just been handed over his latest transfer. Singh has often been transferred within weeks of taking charge. Singh’s refusal to acknowledge his minister was seen by some as his reaction to the transfer.
Singh was transferred from traffic department to ‘Nirbhaya’, a women’s safety and anti-trafficking unit of the Kerala Police last year. Within weeks, he was again transferred as the head of the vigilance and anti-theft wing of Kerala State Electricity Board.
Now, within a year of taking charge, Singh has been moved as Assistant Director General of Police, Armed Force Battalion.
With the photograph and his transfer becoming a big issue on social media, Singh stepped in to clarify that he was not transferred out of his job at the Kerala State Electricity Board because he went after a prominent businessman in the state. He said he was consulted before his transfer and he had conveyed his agreement for the same, according to local media reports.
On not getting up to salute the minister, he said on Facebook: “As per protocol, those sitting in (the) gallery for watching the parade are supposed to stand only once national anthem is played. Otherwise all are supposed to sit till (the) VVIP leaves.”