"I respectfully received a suspension order which can be considered as a milestone in Kerala police’s history of moral policing," a Kerala civil police officer wrote on Facebook on Sunday. The civil police officer from Kozhikode was suspended by city police Commissioner AV George alleging that he was frequently visiting a woman, despite being married (and separated). Umesh, who is 41-years-old, and the woman, who is 31-years-old, have both strongly objected to the suspension and called it a case of harassment.
Umesh, who was working in the Kozhikode control room received his suspension order on Saturday. It states that a woman named Sharada Krishnankutty had complained that her daughter, Athira Krishnan, was taken away from her house by Umesh who is married and has a daughter. Alleging that Athira and Umesh were in a live-in relationship, Sharada's complaint requested that her daughter be 'released' from the apartment.
However, Umesh tells TNM that he was not in a live-in relationship and that the disciplinary action was wrong. He says that he did help Athira get an apartment on rent.
The suspension notice acknowledges that Umesh has been separated from his wife since 2011, but has not divorced her yet. "He became close with Athira promising that he would marry her after divorce. He told the real estate broker that they were married and signed as a witness for the apartment lease. It was also found that he is a frequent visitor to the apartment. Prima facie it was found that he acted against the dignity and good name of the police force," the order states.
An inquiry has been ordered against Umesh under Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958 7(a), 8(l), (lll) sections. The inquiry, based on Section 8, can lead to removal from the services.
Umesh, however, alleges that the Commissioner has a grudge against him.
“Five years ago, the Commissioner had produced a short film on awareness against drug abuse. At that time, another group, which included me, also made a short film. The release date of our short film was prior to his. He asked me to shift the date, I said it was not possible as the town hall was already booked. Then, he threatened to dismiss me. Later, I was transferred to the Traffic department. The issues between us started then,” Umesh says.
In November 2019, when two youngsters Alan and Thaha were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act for allegedly possessing and distributing literature in favour of Maoists, Umesh had posted a scene from the movie Kaadu Pookkunna Neram, in which the protagonists speak about Maoism and UAPA. Umesh got a memo from Commissioner AV George seeking an explanation.
"I gave an explanation and there was no further action. This suspension I believe is an extension of all these issues," Umesh says.
The Commissioner, however, denied these allegations. "He is married and what he did was official misconduct. We will take disciplinary action if any police officer commits official misconduct. I have only done the same," AV George told TNM.
What Athira has to say
Meanwhile, Athira Krishnan has given a complaint to the Inspector General of Police against Commissioner AV George and Kozhikode city Special Branch Assistant Commissioner of Police Sudarshan.
In her complaint to the IG, Athira says that she is a 31-year-old staying in an apartment alone according to her own will.
"As a 31-year-old, I have the right to live in an apartment alone. The city police chief has written that another person has made me stay here and he is a regular visitor here. Stating this reason, my friend Umesh was suspended. Am staying alone and none of my friends are regular visitors here. Even if someone visits me, that is not a crime. My individuality and self respect was tarnished by Commissioner AV George with the suspension order. He was taking revenge against Umesh by victimizing me. I kindly request you to take action against him for insulting and defaming me in a public document," Athira's complaint to IG, North Zone Kozhikode city says.
Athira has also given another complaint against Special Branch ACP Sudarshan who, along with another police officer, visited her apartment and took her statement without the presence of a lady officer. The statement was taken based on the complaint filed by her mother.
Athira says she had issues with her family which forced her to move out of her parent’s home and live alone.
"He (Sudarshan) also made a comment that I don't look the same as I looked in the photo, indicating my complexion and body. Two male officers visited the apartment where I live alone and they threatened me and took my statement," she says.