PHOTOS: PRASOON KIRAN/TMJ
The first term of Pinarayi Vijayan as Kerala’s home minister between 2016 and 2021 was marked by police excesses. In the second, it is being unraveled for its inefficiency and callousness.
It has been three weeks since visuals of a scooter-borne man throwing explosives at AKG Centre, the state headquarters of the CPM, Mr. Vijayan’s party, went around. The AKG Centre is hardly a kilometer away from the secretariat, the seat of power from where Mr. Vijayan runs the state administration as chief minister. But there has been no progress yet in the investigation into the attack, and the police seem like having no clues about it.
The CPM leadership had initially blamed the opposition Congress for the attack but those canons fell silent later, leaving the CPM worker on the ground to suffer a double whammy: the police under his own leadership has not been able to crack the case in which his emotional headquarters was attacked and two, he has no answer to the insinuation of his Congress co-worker or co-passenger that his own comrades were behind it.
Mr. Vijayan is known for his clarity of thought and expression. Whether you agree with him or not, he leaves no one in doubt once he explains his position on a topic. But he was at his evasive best last week while responding to a calling attention motion in the state Assembly by Sunny Joseph, Congress legislator from Kannur, the home district of Mr. Vijayan, too, on a topic of utmost importance. Mr. Joseph, pegging his motion on the incident in which two Assamese rag pickers were killed in an explosion in his constituency this month, said there is a spurt of such incidents in the district in the last one year and that there was no progress in the investigations into them. In the latest incident, he told the House, the father-son duo was trying to open a steel tiffin box they had collected when it exploded. Mr. Joseph’s contention was that there were about eight incidents of crude bombs exploding in the last year but the police was able to nab the culprits in only one case. He mentioned that CPM workers were also involved in such cases but primarily blamed the RSS and SDPI, the Hindutwa and Islamist outfits, respectively, for the crude bomb culture. He wanted a thorough probe into all the incidents and that those responsible for them brought before justice.
The chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, started the defence of his department saying Mr. Joseph’s motion betrayed a lack of subjects on the part of the opposition to nail his government! Anyone who watched the proceedings would wonder why the chief minister chose to defend the callousness and inefficiency of the police even as he, too, listed the events of crude bomb explosions in his district. Isn’t it important for a legislator to demand the government to get to the roots of a disturbing trend? Isn’t it important that the home minister made the police do their job?
The chief minister, a victim of police brutality as a young CPM worker, is known for defending the men in uniform after he became their minister. He had no compunctions in justifying the ‘encounter’ in which two Maoists were gunned down in Nilambur hardly two months into power in 2016, saying the government will do nothing that affects police morale. That ‘encounter’ was followed by others, in which six suspected Maoists were gunned down, and the chief minister never looked regretting them.
The trigger-happy police was the signature of the last edition of the LDF government’s home department; it’s an inefficient one this time. Either the chief minister makes the police leadership understand that they are a professional force and ought to do their job or the CPM finds a person who can do it. This free run is unacceptable.