Kerala Police under pressure as a spate of street crimes fuel criticism from Opposition and public

Updated - May 16, 2024 11:14 am IST

Published - May 15, 2024 09:56 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

A rash of street crimes appear to have acquired a political dimension with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) lashing out at the State police for allegedly going soft on felons at the instance of the ruling CPI(M).

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday spotlighted the Pantheerankavu police’s alleged apathy to the survivor of domestic violence as indicative of the general lethargy and apathy that has consumed the State law enforcement under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s watch.

They said the police accorded an escape window to the wife-beater by going slack on her complaint.

Mr. Satheesan said Mr. Vijayan was holidaying abroad while everyday crime, including road rages, attacks on police officers, waylaying, targeting of police informants, extortion, drug peddling and assault on women and children, continued to erode the rights and liberties of citizens and the public’s faith in the police insidiously.

The police’s response time to distress calls from citizens was dismal. Traffic management has taken a hit, he said.

Mr. Satheesan said profits from environmental crimes such as illegal sand mining, drug peddling, running protection rackets and indulging in real estate had emboldened organised criminals in the State. 

He alleged that many police officers were on their payroll and had CPI(M)‘s political cover. Some alleged gangsters have posted parties celebrating their release from jail on social media, which has a chilling effect on complainants and also potential informants. 

Meanwhile, the State police, under public pressure to show progress in curbing overt crimes, have reportedly embarked on a scheme to ensure that violent criminals are kept in jail without bail while awaiting trial. 

In Thiruvananthapuram, for one, City Police Commissioner C.H. Nagaraju has initiated operation AAG, short form for “Action Against Goons”, in the wake of a wayside murder perpetrated in public view and under the eyes of neighbourhood surveillance cameras. 

A bar-room brawl had resulted in the revenge killing. The accused were history-sheeter with a rotten record of abduction, torture, murder and extortion. They were out on bail in a murder case.

They had inexplicably gone under the police radar, allegedly due to slack follow-up by detectives and local political influence.

The police claimed that the model code of conduct-related transfers of Station House Officers might have transiently blunted the department’s anti-hoodlum operations.

An official said the State Police Chief has ordered updating the list of habitual offenders, which now has an estimated 1,800 names and is growing, to keep tabs on their whereabouts and actions.

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