Kerala CM Orders Probe into Police Interference at Thrissur Pooram Festival

Kerala CM orders probe into police interference in Thrissur Pooram festival, triggering political row. Authorities allege arbitrary decisions by police commissioner, leading to disruption of cultural event.

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Dil Bar Irshad
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Kerala CM Orders Probe into Police Interference at Thrissur Pooram Festival

Kerala CM Orders Probe into Police Interference at Thrissur Pooram Festival

On April 21, 2024, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ordered a serious probe by the Director General of Police (DGP) into complaints raised by temple managements and attendees regarding alleged police restrictions and interference in rituals during the recently held Thrissur Pooram festival at Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, Kerala. The CM acknowledged that the government had limitations in interfering during the election period, but promised an inquiry.

The alleged interference of the police in the Pooram festivities and the delayed display of fireworks, a major attraction of the event, triggered sharp political reactions in the state, with the opposition Congress and BJP criticizing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government over the issue. Vijayan stated that the government and the temple managements had a cordial relationship and they had even requested him to attend the Pooram festivities, but he could not due to election campaigning schedules.

The Devaswom authorities had filed a complaint, and the DGP was directed to investigate the incidents and submit a report. Necessary action would be taken after the investigation. For the first time in the festival's history, the display of fireworks, a major attraction, was held in broad daylight on Saturday, disappointing the festival-goers.

The police commissioner, Ankit Asokan, was seen on footage stopping the umbrellas for Kudamattam and palm tree leaves brought for the elephants, and blocking the umbrellas brought inside the gopuram before the Kudamattam. The police had started strict control on the night before the Pooram itself, and there were complaints of the commissioner shouting and pushing the festival-goers during the Madathil Varavu.

There was also an altercation with the police and Devaswom officials inside the temple when Thiruvampadi Bhagwati was brought out for the procession. A special branch report has alleged that the commissioner took arbitrary decisions and did not take the opinion of the experts, and that the Pooram was "destroyed by the police itself". The report also mentioned the commissioner's lack of accurate knowledge about Pooram management, unnecessary control, non-cooperation with officials, and lack of experienced senior officials.

Why this matters: The Thrissur Pooram festival is one of the most significant cultural events in Kerala, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists each year. The alleged police interference and restrictions on the festival's rituals have raised concerns about the management of such events and the role of authorities in preserving cultural traditions while maintaining law and order.

The Kerala government has instructed the transfer of the Thrissur Police Commissioner (District Police Chief) Ankit Asokan IPS and the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sudarsan C., though the actual transfers will only take place after approval from the Election Commission. Action, including transfer, may be taken against the commissioner after a departmental inquiry and the withdrawal of the election code of conduct. The Thiruvambadi Devaswom has warned of severe protests if the unnecessary restrictions on officials continue for the next Pooram.

Key Takeaways

  • Kerala CM orders probe into police interference in Thrissur Pooram festival rituals.
  • Fireworks display, a major attraction, held in daylight, disappointing festival-goers.
  • Police commissioner accused of arbitrary decisions, lack of cooperation with officials.
  • Kerala govt instructs transfer of Thrissur Police Commissioner and ACP after inquiry.
  • Devaswom warns of protests if unnecessary restrictions continue for next Pooram.