In recent years, they have managed to create an image for themselves on social media. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Clubhouse, through their witty memes and informative posts, the Kerala Police have cultivated an image of Mom Police (Police Uncle) on social media and their accounts are among the most followed by any police service in India.
But the lockdown undoes the cautious image building the social media team had pulled off.
This is because the cops in the field are not as friendly as the police uncle on social media.
In fact, over the past few weeks there have been a slew of incidents across the state where cops have been caught penalizing lockdown violators., who may have inadvertently done it or may not be at all at fault.
Case of questioning of a sanction
The most notable incident happened last month in Kollam when a teenage girl was convicted of obstruction of duty when she questioned cops for penalizing an elderly man who stood in line at an ATM., accusing him of not respecting social distancing.
Despite the bullying from the cops, the teenager held on and after video of the incident went viral, police reportedly contacted her through some politicians offering to withdraw the case if she apologized . The girl, identified as Gauri Nanda, declined the offer saying she was never at fault.
Fish thrown in the desert
A few days later, another video surfaced where a woman from Kollam alleged that the cops had thrown her basket of fish worth Rs 16,000 in a vacant lot. accusing him of violating containment.
The 65-year-old woman, Maryamma, like many small traders and day laborers, struggled to put food on the table due to the lockdown. She had borrowed money to buy the fish, which she hoped to sell and make a profit. But the cops threw her fish away, claiming that a crowd had gathered around her and therefore the lock was violated.
Cut the grass for the cow
In another authoritarian Narayanan incident, a farmer in Kasaragod was fined 2,000 rupees by police as he left his house to cut grass for his cow because his wife who had been tested positive for COVID-19 was in home isolation.
Five people in a store
Just days ago, an elderly man who runs a small grocery store in a very remote village of Palakkad was fined 2,000 rupees by police for breaching the lockdown after five people were seen inside from his store.
According to the store owner, it is the only store in this village and he earns barely 500 rupees a day from his business.
As Kerala Police’s social media pages were inundated with complaints of their excesses, state DGP Anil Kant on Tuesday ordered district police chiefs to enforce the law in the most dignified manner when ‘they impose restrictions.
Police officers from the sub-division would be closely monitoring the case, Kant said in a circular.
Police officers who perform Covid and traffic related duties work in very difficult situations, but the state police chief has reminded officers not to overreact when enforcing restrictions.