A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has come down heavily on the State Government for not initiating action against policemen who were involved in damaging motorbikes of devotees parked at Nilakkal, en route to Sabarimala Temple.

A batch of writ petitions is pending before the Devaswom Bench of the High Court seeking action against the policemen who damaged vehicles and unleashed violence upon Sabarimala devotees on 17th October, 2018, when the Sabarimala Temple opened for the first time after the verdict of the Apex Court. Videos of the policemen damaging motorbikes of devotees had gone viral. It had also come out that most policemen involved in lathi charge against devotees on the same day were not wearing nameplates on their uniform, as required under the Kerala police Act, 2011. The petitioners before the High Court have raised these allegations in the writ petitions seeking action against the policemen involved.

On 5th November, 2018 the High Court had issued a direction to the State Police Chief to conduct an enquiry into the incident and file a report before the court along with a list of the police officer involved. Subsequently, by an interim order passed on 3rd January, 2019 High Court observed on the issue nameplates that, “It is to be ascertained whether the persons who were not wearing the name plates were “trainees” or such others identified by the higher officials to conceal the identity and avoid the consequences.

The Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam Range, Vijay Sakhare IPS, filed an affidavit dated 8th January, 2019 before the High Court stating they have identified 3 personnel from the 1st Battalion of Kerala Armed Police to have indulged in damaging private property. However, despite the earlier interim order, the names of even those three police personnel were withheld. IG also stated in his affidavit that the State Police Chief had directed the District Police Chief, Pathanamthitta to look into the matter pertaining to the alleged deployment of policemen without nameplates at Sabarimala.

The cases have been adjourned to 1st April, 2019 and State Government has been granted time till then for submitting the relevant particulars by filing an additional affidavit. Sabarimala Temple which is currently closed will be open from 10th to 19th April, 2019.

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