Kochi: Malayalam actor Siddique turned the tables on the media when he said at the Manorama News Freedom Conclave 2018 that it was the media which had 'hunted him down and invaded his privacy'. He was speaking at a session on 'Whose freedom? Cops or commoners?' The other speakers, Justice (retired) Kemal Pasha and state police chief Loknath Behera said the common man was much better placed in Kerala in terms of justice delivery.
Siddique said the media had called him a 'murderer' when he lent his support to a fellow actor who was yet to be proven guilty in the February 17, 2017, Kochi actress abduction case. As the media got a jab and the audience apparently liking it, he went on to say that the police had never interfered in his life the negative way.
However, justice Pasha said there was no point being 'better off' relatively and the people wanted 'the maximum'. “Police are a law-enforcement authority, not a deciding authority,” the police chief said.
He said political murders would stop when political parties showed the will to do so. Justice Pasha responded by stating that murders should not be called 'political murder.' He said a murder was someone's ploy to eliminate someone. This was the sole motive and that should end.
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He said the police was on the path of a paradigm shift. The training had shifted to 'soft skills training'. Officers were being trained on handling various situations. They were being trained in talking to rape survivors and other such people, he said, adding the dividends would be forthcoming.
The session turned tumultuous as actor Siddique told the police chief bluntly that the public felt that the hands of the police were tied. He wanted to know why 'errant officer AV George was not arrested as part of the Varappuzha custodial death case'.
Justice Pasha said the hands of the 'eminently capable' force were fettered and that was why they could not act effectively. The former judge said the police actions were governed by the economic and social positions of the accused.
On being pointedly asked whether the police had a different approach to high-profile cases, Siddique said the Puducherry tax evasion case was handled well by the police. Speaking for his fraternity, Siddique said of the around 450 actors in Malayalam cinema, only three had evaded tax and they had made good by paying up fines. He asked whether others were being hauled up for similar offences.
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