Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said the state government will not condone any behavior by police officers that crosses the line of acceptable and civil behavior, after a video of an IPS officer administering a ‘traditional punishment’ came up.
The traditional punishment, known as ‘ethamidal’ in Malayalam, used to be quite popular during feudal era in Kerala as well as in other parts of India.
It also used to be administered by teachers in schools till about 15 years ago, but is considered too demeaning and unsuitable for a democratic society at present. However, many devout Hindus still carry out this practice as atonement at temples, particularly those belonging to Muruga and Ganapati.
“Today we saw an image that is not in line with the accepted system in our state,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during his daily briefing on Coronavirus lockdown, referring to the video of Kannur Superintendent of Police Yatish Chandra meting out the punishment.
Pinarayi Vijayan said the secretary to the department of home affairs for Kerala promptly got in touch with the state police chief and sought a report on what happened.
The incident led to much outrage in the state, not just because Keralites in general frown upon such ‘feudal practices’, but also because the victims were Malayalis while the officer was not.
“Such incidents cannot be repeated at any costs. They affect the reputation of the police, which is otherwise doing an great job overall. In many place, policemen are doing their duty without even basic amenities, and that has been well accepted by the people. It is our clear stand that nothing should take place that affects the acceptability of what the police is doing in this state.”
Vijayan was probed by journalists whether the matter would end at a routine probe and a report.
“Let the report come. You will notice that this is the first time that we have sought a report on any such incident [during the Coronavirus lockdown]” he said.
The incident takes place in the wake of similar videos coming from other parts of the country, particularly Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
One video, allegedly from Budaun in Uttar Pradesh, shows UP cops allegedly forcing migrant laborers to ‘frog jump’ on the road as punishment for being out and about during the lockdown.
Budaun police has ordered an inquiry into the incident.