FROM BLACK DIWALI TO BLACK REPUBLIC DAY-KERALA EVOLVES INTO A TERROR STATE-
MAJ(RETD) P M RAVINDRAN, KALPATHY-678003
Three months ago, precisely on 12 Oct 2012, shortly before 3 pm, I was arrested on the orders of the Dy SP, Palakkad, Mr Prasob, when I was in front of a hotel. Defence Minister A K Antony was scheduled to inaugurate the 50th anniversary of public life of O Rajagopal, Minister of State for Railways in the earlier Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government, at 3.30 pm in the auditorium of the hotel. My crime- having some leaflets titled ‘For whom the soliders make their sacrifices‘ to be distributed to those going into the hotel to participate in the function and also a banner to be displayed outside the hotel on the road side! (For more details please read my blogs ‘Black Diwali 2012‘ at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2012/11/black-diwali-2012.html and ‘Black Diwali-follow up‘ at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2012/11/black-diwali-follow-up.html. And just for the records, an application under the RTI Act to provide information on action taken on the petition to the DSP elicited the reply that the petition has not been received by that office, though I have with me the acknowledgement card signed by their authorised person! The matter is with the 1st appellate authority!)
Today, that is 26 Jan 2013, the venue was Fort Maidan, Palakkad where Kerala Cabinet Minister Manjalamkuzhy Ali was to take the salute at a formal Republic Day Parade at the District Headquarters. Dr P S Panikkar, all of 70 years, a well known activist working in the area of conservation of ecology, human rights and other civic issues, was there to distribute some leaflets on the on going struggle by civic society to persuade the Government of Kerala to appeal before the apex court on an order issued by the Kerala High Court in the matter of Noorani Hindu High School Playground. The issue in brief is as follows.
In 1917 and 1951 the then Madras Government acquired and handed over 2 acres and 3.19 acres of land to the school for playground purposes. When the school stopped functioning in 1997, the management returned 3.19 acres of land to the government but retained the earlier 2 acres. After enough enquiries by the concerned authorities and enough opportunity being given to the proprieters of the school to prove their claim to the land and legal opinion tendered by the Government Pleader, the tehsildar took over the land on the orders of the then district collector, on 8/10/2007. The very next day the owners brought a stay order on the proceedings from the Kerala High Court. Later they got a favourable verdict too. The appeal by the government was also dismissed three months ago. The present government has not gone on appeal to the apex court and various sports clubs and civic society under the banner of Noorani Playground Protection Council has been agitating and also appealing to every authority possible, from the CM to the local MLA, to appeal before the apex court to retain possession of the ground already taken over and convert it to a sports complex.
Back to the day’s events, Dr Panikkar was forbidden to enter the ground by the special branch officers of the police. When he agreed and started distributing the leaflet on the road side he was forbidden to do that also. When he was returning helplessly, he was met by an acqaintence who had come with his 11 year old son to witness the parade. At this point the police sweeped on all three of them, bundled them up in their van and took them to the Town South Police Station.
Meanwhile, I, who had dropped Dr Panikkar near the Maidan and gone to get a camera returned and while entering the ground was stopped by the officers of the special branch. When I said I wanted to meet Dr Panikkar I was told that he had been taken to the police station. I was shocked and told them that I was going to the police station myself. On my way to the area where my motorcycle was parked I was handed over a copy of the day’s newspaper Madhyamam by some body who had been distributing it free of cost there. Even as I collected it and was about to move on a Dy SP standing there called me and had a physical check of my person. The waist band that I was wearing due to low back ache seemed to have aroused his suspicion. By then two police personnel in civvies came to me and asked me to get into their vehicle. They brushed aside my statement that I was going to the police station itself but on my own motorcycle. At the police station I joined Dr Panikkar, Syed and his 11 year old son, as a detainee.
Soon about 15 or so activists, including an advocate, Mr Shaji, gathered in the police station. At about 1030h the Dy SP came and all the activists followed him to his office. Thereafter Dr Panikkar, Syed and myself were also summoned. After some discussions, we were given to believe that the police acted in our interest, to protect us from from (some imaginary!) counter protestors and the ugly situation that could have followed! He later let us off with a snide threat that he could file an FIR if we wanted it!
Ever since my voluntary retirement in 1998 I have been an activist in the area of good governance and judicial reforms. With the promulgation of the Right to Information Act I believed that here was an opportunity to usher in democracy without bloodshed but suffice to say that the responses that I have received to my applications and appeals have convinced me that government has become a synonym for a group of people in offices of authority doing nothing that is required to be done by them and doing everything that they should never be doing!
For now I wish Anna, Kejriwal, Jai Prakash Narayan (of LokSatta Party)and Baba Ramdev would close ranks and help the masses to oust the thugs, scoundrels and traitors occupying the offices of authority of the state and usher in real democracy in this, my motherland!