Tension is simmering in a major apartment complex right next to Infopark after 64 tenants lodged a written complaint with the city police alleging excessive restrictions teetering on the edge of moral policing by the apartment association.
S. Sasidharan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kochi City, has since handed over the 8-page petition listing out their grievances to Thrikkakara Assistant Commissioner P.V. Baby for investigation.
“We are set to summon both the petitioners and the association officer bearers besides random apartment residents to thrash out the issue in a couple of days,” said Mr. Baby.
The petitioners allege discrimination between tenants, owners and even based on gender. Bachelors are not allowed to host guests belonging to the opposite sex even if they are close kin.
“Tenants, unlike owners, are not allowed to have guests after 10 p.m. and there have been instances in which even our parents were kept waiting outside for hours. We are not allowed to even take a walk or cycle on the apartment premises after 10 p.m. in which case the security guards would stop us. Security guards make lewd comments at our guests and when confronted, say that the association has asked them to make those enquiries. We are willing to cooperate and share the details of our guests but to humiliate them amounts to moral policing in the guise of security,” said Jibin Rajan, a tenant at Olive Courtyard apartment complex and one of the signatories to the petition.
He said that at one point, the association introduced a charge of ₹250 per day for a guest but was forced to roll it back in the face of stiff protest and police intervention.
When contacted, Thomas Philip, secretary, Olive Courtyard Owners Association (OCOA), declined to comment saying that the association will shortly convene a press meet to reveal the “truth” of the matter.
Incidentally, the body of a youngster was recovered from the apartment complex last year that eventually turned out to be a murder following alleged drug dealings. Since then, the Kochi city police have issued guidelines for apartment complexes.
“The police have issued general guidelines such as maintaining a register of visitors and vehicles and not intrusive restrictions by compulsion. But some apartment associations seem to have slipped in their own restrictions using that as a ruse,” said a senior police official.
V.S. Somanathan, general secretary of the All Kerala Flat Owners’ Association, said that far too many rifts between tenants and flat owners have cropped up in apartment complexes across the State over the restrictions. “The atmosphere in an apartment complex depends on the methods of those in the executive committee of associations. Guidelines have to be implemented tactfully and by taking everyone into confidence and that calls for cooperation on the part of both tenants and associations,” he said.