Chaitra episode sends out a wrong message to society

Chaitra episode sends out a wrong message to society
The disciplinary action against DCP Chaitra Teresa John can be viewed as an acknowledgment of her refusal to bow down to anyone while carrying out her duty.

The transfer order handed out to Deputy commissioner of Police (DCP) Chaitra Teresa John for raiding the CPI(M) Thiruvananthapuram district committee office is an honour that is more glittering than any Padma award, I must say.

The disciplinary action against her can be viewed as an acknowledgment of her refusal to bow down to anyone while carrying out her duty. Also, the entire episode exposed the state government's double standards and helped the general public gauge its selective renaissance and women empowerment theories.

It is highly condemnable that the action against Chaitra comes at a time when the government is taking the lead to organise various programmes calling upon the citizens to strive to protect and preserve the spirit of the Constitution. By resorting to such disgraceful measures, the government, which keeps asserting that it would not compromise on its stern law and order approach, is definitely sending out a wrong message to the society.

This is not the first instance of workers affiliated to the party in power turning law-breakers. It applies to both left and right wings. Unfortunately, when partymen indulge in such acts, the government, instead of upholding the rule of law, takes an embarrassing stance and protect them.

The incident involving Chaitra is a matter of serious concern for many reasons. The 50-member gang of DYFI workers pelted stones at the Medical College station not to protest against police inaction or with any hidden agenda. They resorted to violence after being denied permission to meet the two CPM activists who were arrested in connection with a case registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences act (POCSO). A police team led by DCP Chaitra searched the party office based on a Special Branch report that those involved in the station attack were hiding in the CPM office in Mettukada.

The crime committed by Chaitra is that she did not compromise on maintaining public peace and law and order! Within hours, the government ‘rewarded’ the IPS officer for discharging her duties sincerely by shunting her out of the post she was holding. She was also told by her superiors to give an explanation for the ‘offence’ she committed. If that was not enough, a departmental inquiry has also been initiated against her. A great example of law enforcement indeed!

CPI(M) leaders allege that Chaitra, colluding with the Opposition, raided the office with an intention to tarnish the party’s image. When the party leaders level such an accusation against her, they are obliged to produce conclusive evidence to substantiate it. Then only the general public would be convinced. It could be a mere coincidence that the same officer was the one who acted firmly and booked the NGO union leaders who were accused of vandalising the SBI Treasury Branch during the general strike recently.

There are two choices for officers of Chaitra’s ilk. They can bow to political pressure and make their official life hassle-free. The second option is discharging their duties honestly and sincerely without fearing the consequences. I have no doubt that officers like Chaitra, who is very young with over 30 years left in service, would pick the second option. Not only Chaitra, but a majority of civil servants of the current generation are brave enough to take such a stance. I’m proud that there are many women among them. That is where renaissance in its true essence becomes a reality.

(The writer is a former additional chief secretary of Home Department)

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