Kochi: The Kochi city police cut a sorry figure as a group of Shiv Sena activists unleashed their moral policing fury on young couples sitting at the APJ Abdul Kalam Marg walkway in Marine Drive on Wednesday afternoon. The cops stood as silent spectators as the Shiv Sena activists chased away the youngsters and thrashed them with canes.
As the incident triggered widespread protests, the city police commissioner suspended Mr Vijayashankar, sub-inspector, Central Station, who was on duty at Marine Drive while the Sena rampage took place. The other police officials on duty with the SI have been transferred to the AR camp.
The police inaction was inexplicable as the Sena activists had indicated their intention on Tuesday on social media platforms. The cops could have prevented the activists numbering fewer than two dozen from imposing their writ on the people.
The activists claimed that they held the march demanding an end to sexual violence against girls and ending what they termed "romancing under umbrellas" at Marine Drive.
Condemning the incident, Mr Hibi Eden MLA said the police inaction was deplorable. "The police was protecting the anti-socials indulging in moral policing," he said. "The inaction cannot be justified in any modern and civilised society. The government machinery has failed in preventing such shameful incident in a fast-growing metropolitan city such as Kochi, " he said and added the matter will be raised in the Assembly on Thursday.
The Sena activists' vandalism in the presence of media and police is a serious issue, said activist Lazar Shine. It is similar to the action by Sri Ram Sena activists in Bengaluru and Mangalore, he added.
CPM Ernakulam district secretary P. Rajiv also came down heavily on the police and the Shiva Sena. The Sena indulged in goondaism and barbarism, he said. "The police remaining as mute witnesses is not acceptable," he said. "Action should be initiated against the guilty police officials."
The police took six persons into custody in connection with the incident and booked them under non-bailable charges for assault and obstructing government officials from discharging their duty. The arrested were identified as T.R. Devan, chairman of the state political affairs committee, Shiva Sena, K.Y.Kunjumon, K.U. Ratheesh, A.V.Vineesh, T.R.Lenin and K.K.Liju, all members of the party's Ernakulam district unit. City police commissioner M.P. Dinesh said assistant commissioner of police, special branch, had been directed to probe the alleged lapses on the part of the police. "Further action, if any, will be based on the probe report," he said.
The police intelligence wing had prior knowledge about the action and even dispersed a few couples sitting along the walkway earlier in the afternoon. But the law and order machinery was completely paralysed when the hooligans took over the place, said an officer.
A number of activists, meanwhile, decided to hold meetings at Marine Drive on Thursday in protest against the Sena vandalism. The pro-CPM DYFI will hold a sitting at 10 in the morning while the supporters of Kiss of Love agitation will meet at 4 p.m....