A tough Constitution day for city cops

Police personnel deployed outside the office of the Police Commissioner in the city on Tuesday.

Police personnel deployed outside the office of the Police Commissioner in the city on Tuesday.  

The city police would have expected to have a more meaningful celebration on the Constitution Day on Tuesday.

Instead, they ended up talking to a group of six women activists about the role of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in deciding the women’s entry into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in an attempt to persuade them to put off their visit to the hilltop shrine.

While the pepper spray attack on Bindu Ammini and the protest led by those holding up picture placards of Lord Ayyappa made for a spectacle brimming with tension and was duly lapped up by the media, what went behind closed doors at the Kochi Commissionerate office was an intractable contest between persuasive skills of the police and its stonewalling by the activists led by Trupti Desai.

Additional Commissioner K.P. Philip’s efforts to placate Ms. Desai and her co-travellers to drop the plan to visit Sabarimala and return failed to cut ice. The police kept saying the situation was different from was last year’s when the government policy was to extend assistance to women pilgrims taking up the pilgrimage and that no such assistance would be forthcoming this year.

They either wanted police security when going to Sabarimala or the police to give them a written undertaking about the denial of security, which were emphatically declined by the police. Instead, the police wanted them to take the first flight out off Kochi, which they weren’t willing to accept.

Frustrated by the deadlock, the police doubted whether the activists were staging a drama wondering how they ended up at the Kochi Commissionerate rather than proceeding to Pampa if going to Sabarimala was their intention. The police also picked holes in the activists’ claims that they were dropped off by the cab driver hired to Sabarimala.

The invocation of ‘drama’ didn't go down well with Ms.Desai who stormed out of the talks and in protest took the other activists and stood in the corridor outside the Commissionerate on the eleventh floor. She could be heard claiming that she had informed the Chief Minister and that she had been cooperating with the police for hours since turning up.

That the Cochin International Airport Limited remained closed till 6 p.m. owing to maintenance of its runway made it hard for the police to arrange for their return during the day.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 1:02:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/a-tough-constitution-day-for-city-cops/article30090888.ece

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