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The ‘Dabangg-type’ cop who stopped a union minister, arrested politicians at Sabarimala

As Pon Radhakrishnan’s private vehicle reached Sabarimala temple which is in the middle of a huge row over the entry of women, the policemen stopped him. Leading the team was IPS officer Yatish Chandra.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2018 13:17 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
New Delhi
Yathish Chandra,IPS officer Yathish Chandra,Pon Radhakrishnan
Yathish Chandra, the Thrissur district police chief.(Photo: Facebook/yathish.IPS)

From a street thug to a mad dog, the 33-year-old police officer who stopped a union minister right near Kerala’s Sabarimala temple has been called names for some years now. But Yathish Chandra doesn’t let that deter him.

Pon Radhakrishnan, the junior finance minister at the centre, certainly didn’t when he reached the Nilakkal base camp near the temple with a group of BJP activists on Wednesday. As his private vehicle reached Sabarimala temple which is in the middle of a huge row over the entry of women, the policemen stopped him. Leading the team was Yatish Chandra, the 2011 batch Indian Police Service officer who some of his colleagues say, reminds them of the police officer in the Hindi movie, ‘Dabangg’.

In a video of their face-off that has been widely circulated, the minister is seen asking Chandra why private vehicles are not allowed. Chandra, the Thrissur district police chief, says, “I’ll explain it to you, due to recent floods…” The minister cut him short. “I know that.” But Chandra wasn’t having it. “Can you please listen to me?” he asks the minister.

Also read | Won’t allow RSS to turn Sabarimala into another Ayodhya, says Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

And he has his say. The officer explains that there are complications with parking closer to the temple as the grounds near the Sabarimala temple were washed away after the recent floods. This has led to the risk of landslides in the area. “But why are private vehicle not allowed to enter when government buses are?” the minister retorts. When he is unable to get through to the minister, Chandra offers to let the private vehicles pass on one condition. “Are you willing to take responsibility?” the officer, who trained as a electrical engineer before joining the police, asks. The minister quickly makes it clear that he didn’t want to “take responsibility”.

“That is the thing here, no one wants to take responsibility,” Chandra says, a broad smile on his face. A BJP leader standing next to Radhakrishnan loses his calm and starts yelling at Chandra for addressing the minister in such a tone. The confrontation continues for some more time before the minister’s supporters get the message and back off. Not so long ago, Chandra had arrested BJP general secretary K Surendran and Hindu Aikya Vedi chief KP Sasikala, who are believed to have fanned protests over the entry of women into Sabarimala. They were trying to enter the shrine.

Asked, Chandra insists he doesn’t have an agenda. “We are only doing our duty, without favouring or hurting any political party. Our aim is to make Sabarimala a peaceful space, a safe place for all devotees. We do not have any agenda,” he told Livemint over the phone. For his actions and beliefs, Chandra, within the police circles, has an image problem with a few of his colleagues suggesting that he was “trying to impress the chief minister”.

“He is someone who wants to be seen close to the powers that be. So he is trying to impress the chief minister now, I would not be surprised,” Livemint quoted one of the most senior police officers in the state who did not wish to be named. Chandra ridicules the charge. “Basically, I am here to execute the orders of the democratically elected government,” he said. That has got him on the wrong side of Pinarayi Vijayan, now chief minister, when he was in the opposition. It was Vijayan who had called him a “street thug” and veteran communist leader VS Achuthanandan had likened to a “mad dog”.

Also read | Midnight drama at Sabarimala as devotees hold sudden protest, court arrest

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 00:13 IST

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