The Kerala government has contemplated action against additional DGP Rishiraj Singh for not saluting state home minister Ramesh Chennithala at a function at the state police academy in Thrissur on Saturday.
Much to the government’s embarrassment, several newspapers flashed the picture of the senior officer sitting when the minister arrived before the passing out parade of police constables.
More than the so-called show of disrespect, the government was infuriated by the officer’s explanation that there was no protocol to stand up and salute a minister.
As netizens rallied behind the senior cop, saying what he did was right, DGP TP Senkumar disagreed. He said an officer is duty-bound to salute a minister and Singh would be asked to correct himself if his action was deliberate.
“Facebook and WhatsApp pictures are creating confusion. The minister entered from behind when we were sitting on the dais facing the parade. Is it possible to see a person behind you?” Singh asked.
The officer said he was a gust at the function and the invitation letter suggested “we are supposed to get up only when the national anthem is played”.
The home minister was tight-lipped about the incident, though chief minister Oommen Chandy has expressed displeasure and hinted action against Singh, who is known to be an upright officer.
The incident has snowballed into a major controversy with several MLAs and Congress functionaries seeking action against him for indiscipline and dereliction of duty. They said he had set a bad precedent for junior officers.
Legislators of the Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) met the chief minister on Monday to voice their anger. Chandy assured them the government would take appropriate action.
Singh was one of the three officers handpicked by former chief minister VS Achuthanandan to remove illegal encroachments in hill station Munnar seven years ago.
When he was transport commissioner, he implemented traffic rules vigorously. Later, in the state electricity board, he unearthed many thefts and irregularities. Last week, he was transferred as Additional DGP (battalion).
Veteran communist Achuthanandan, now the opposition leader, has criticised the government for Singh’s frequent transfers.
An opposition leader said such VVIP culture, which mirrored a British-era mindset, should be done away with. “It was a culture created by the British because they wanted to prove themselves superior.”