Thiruvananthapuram: 'Love-hate.' There would not be any other term more befitting this IPS officer's relationship with the political parties in Kerala in the last three years.
First, it was the CPM that was furious with him, and now it is the turn of the BJP. In between, he had also managed to tick off the state’s human rights commission.
The BJP is riled with SP Yathish Chandra as the party feels he was ‘rude’ to its leaders protesting at Sabarimala because he arrested state general secretary K Surendran on Saturday and then engaged in an altercation with union minister Pon Radhakrishnan on Wednesday.
The party also accused the 32-year-old of going soft on Congress and other UDF leaders who reached the Nilakkal base camp enroute to Sabarimala shrine to defy prohibitory orders.
“SP Yathish Chandra misbehaved with the union minister. He has a contempt towards dark people. When I reminded him that he was talking to a union minister, he stared at me. Yesterday, he acted servile in front of Ramesh Chennithala,” said AN Radhakrishnan, BJP’s state general secretary, who was accompanying the minister.
But the Karnataka-born Kerala cadre officer was not always an object of scorn for the saffron party. Instead, he was a darling of the right-wing in the state after he ordered baton charge on CPM workers on a hartal day at Angamaly in 2015.
However, it had not gone down well with the opposition CPM and he was called a ‘mad dog’ by none other than veteran leader VS Achuthanandan. Pinarayi Vijayan also demanded that Chandra be removed from his post, alleging that he had treated CPM cadre like street goons.
The officer was transferred from the post within a month. Everyone expected then that once Vijayan became the CM, Chandra would be sent on a punishment posting. But he was brought back as the DCP of Ernakulam in January 2017. But controversies still followed him.
The police unit led by him had baton-charged protesters gathered at the High Court junction to protest against the opening of an LPG plant in Puthuvype on June 17 that year. Television footage had showed the cops caning and dragging protesters at the protest site in the name of mob control venue.
The police action brought him under the scanner of the human rights body, and a seven-year-old boy named Alan also testified against the officer. "I saw this uncle hit other people and they had to be hospitalised. He hit me too," said the boy, pointing a finger at Chandra.
The top brass of the police establishment had stood by Chandra, but to everyone’s surprise, Vijayan too backed him and said that call of duty mandated the lathicharge on protesters.
Now, around 1000 days after the Angalamy baton charge in 2015, CPM cadres are portraying Chandra as the hero who could take on the BJP leaders, while the activists of Sangh are after his head.