While Kerala is caught in a debate over the extending of licences to 418 bars that were found to have poor amenities, a new case has shocked the state — policemen in a van carrying convicts were spotted buying and stocking liquor in the vehicle.
The police van, carrying convicts connected to the sensational T.P. Chandrasekharan murder case, reportedly stopped at Mahe to buy liquor on its way back after taking the convicts to a court in Kannur. Local residents spotted a policeman buying the liquor from an outlet and passed on the information to an additional director general of police.
It was not immediately clear who among the policemen accompanying the convicts actually bought the liquor but indications were that an assistant sub inspector of police made the purchases. After the information was passed on to the police chief, five policemen were suspended, subject to investigation.
Residents who found out about the incident stopped the police vehicle at Payyoli with the help of a highway police team, and the scene shifted briefly to the Payyoli police station. People who gathered could not identify the convicts in the police vehicle, but reports said Mohammad Shafi was one of them.
The T.P. Chandrasekharan murder convicts had earlier been in the news for freely using mobile phones in jail and constantly being on social media, making Facebook posts.
In a police search that followed the media revelations, several mobile handsets were recovered from the jail.
The quick decision to suspend the policemen is seen as a face-saving measure for the state police. The home ministry came under fire when the social media usage by the convicts was revealed. The allegation was that a section of policemen were making life easy for the T.P. Chandrasekharan convicts.
Since then, there has been a change of home minister with Ramesh Chennithala taking over from Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. Chennithala is at present directing a series of raids against illegal money lenders across the state, which is earning applause for the government. The revelation that the Chandrasekharan murder convicts continue to enjoy the patronage of some sections in police is likely to dent the image of the home ministry again.