THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Police Chief Loknath Behera in an interaction with Express said his department will have zero tolerance towards those trying to foment communal frenzy in the state and the police force will be ruthlessly strong in action against elements that organised social media-backed hartal. “In Kerala, there is no room for communal violence of any sort. Strict action will be taken against those who gave the hartal call, those who spread it and those who enforced it on street,” he added.
Behera, however, added a lot of the youth who were arrested were onlookers who joined the protests. “There were a lot of youngsters who were onlookers and shouldn’t be joining the protest. But that’s what they did,” he added. Behera also added the investigation into the hartal will probe the intention of the hartal supporters, their motive, and finally, the source of the messages that prompted some to take to the streets. “All these elements will be investigated.
This will be a pan- Kerala probe and will have the assistance from various wings of the force- including the intelligence department and the hitech cell,” he added. However, there were severe criticisms against the way the intelligence wing functioned prior to the hartal with some of the officials in the Home Department questioning the way the agency handled the issue.
“It’s doubtful whether the wing had predicted the extent and reach of the hartal,” a Home Department official said. However, Behera rallied behind the intelligence apparatus and said their contribution was immense in containing the hartal. “The intelligence had alerted about the hartal the previous night and that’s why we could contain the violence.
There was planning of violence in a big scale, but since we had enough intel inputs, we managed to prevent large-scale violence. Also, we were able to mobilise forces to sensitive areas in the northern districts on that night itself once we got the info,” he claimed. Meanwhile, the quarterly meeting of the top-level police officers on Thursday is expected to touch upon ‘WhatsApp hartal’.
Though the meeting is a routine process and is meant to review the crimes, police sources said Monday’s hartalrelated incidents would also come up for discussion owing to its gravity. However, the meeting will be done via video conferencing as officers from the northern parts won’t be able to make it to the police headquarters.
“The meeting is a regular one and used to be done via video conferencing at times. This time, officers were expected to come over to Thiruvananthapuram and the date was set accordingly. However, the prevailing situation in the northern districts seems to have restricted the movement of officers from those parts,” said a source.