605 Kerala cops face crime cases

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The Kerala intelligence department’s disclosure in response to an RTI query that 605 police personnel are facing criminal cases may not be the final picture as another exercise to shortlist more of them is already on.

This is so, even as a division bench of the high court on Monday asked the state to file an 'action taken' report on the list prepared by the police.

According to a top police official, all those facing criminal charges in uniform have not been included in the list. The present one has a majority of them who were not really involved in any serious crimes, but petty personal allegations.

“There are many police officers who are involved in serious criminal activities, but have managed to keep themselves off the hands of the law owing to their influence. The state intelligence wing is now in the process of identifying such officers and preparing a list,” said the sources.

The DGP Jacob Punnose had, in 2011, filed a list of 605 police personnel, including a retired ADGP and an IG who were facing criminal charges before Kerala High Court.

Of these, the local police had registered 533 cases, while 29 cops were booked in vigilance cases and 36 were involved in CBI cases. Seven of the policemen had excise and forest cases pending against them.

The retired ADGP S. Pulikesi is facing a CBI case in which the chargesheet has already been submitted before the CBI court in Kochi.

The list prepared by police includes names of IG Tomin Thachankary and DIG S. Sreejith among other top officials.

The government’s admission that 605 cops including some top guns are facing criminal charges is the symptom of a worsening disease — criminalisation of the police force. Using cops for political and criminal purposes has long been an art perfected by powers that be.

A couple of years ago, a group of local people launched a stir against a senior police officer for constructing his house on a piece of property under dispute.

The agitators were later dealt with sternly, not by using police force, but allegedly using a prominent goonda gang. This was just one instance of the police-criminal nexus in the state.

The police-criminal nexus has been an open secret in the state over the last several years. But the stark truth is that not only did consecutive governments take no steps to curb this menace, but they also facilitated the growth of such elements.

The list of 605 police officials obtained by RTI activist D.B. Binu did not reflect the actual situation. This list contains names of only those who have been arraigned in various criminal cases.

There are many others who have been involved in criminal and dubious activities, but managed to keep off from getting arraigned in any of the cases, obviously owing to their influence.

More alarming is the political patronage that the police officials, known for their criminal background get, says a senior police officer.

“You can still find many criminals holding key posts in the police force. This is due to their proximity to the power centres,” he said. Former DGP Mr K.J. Joseph says that it’s sheer lack of will among the higher-ups which leads to this scenario of criminals thriving in the police force.

“If a policeman has a criminal tendency that will reflect soon after he enters service. If there is an effective evaluation system, such police officers could be identified during their probation period itself and they could be denied confirmation,” he added.

According to criminologist Dr James Vadakumcherry, there are two types of criminal activities when it comes to the police - criminals in the force and the criminalisation of the police.

“It is owing to lapses in the recruitment system that criminals manage to enter the police force. Criminalisation in police happens due to the misuse of power by police officers,” Vadakkumcherry said.

He also suggested that this menace can be curbed by bringing in an effective supervisory system and providing scientific training for police personnel. “Political will also play a significant role,” he said.

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