Kerala has a dynamic culture when it comes to art, literature, and cinema, which is why the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) was a much-anticipated event in the state. However, this year, it made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Noted Malayalam film director Kamal, the Chairman and festival organiser at the IFFK, had to tackle several controversies after the police picked up some delegates who had not stood up while the national anthem was being played.
Director Kamal, known for his sense of youth-oriented block-buster Malayalam films, had expressed his disappointment about the protests by Yuva Morcha workers that were conducted in front of his house where they sang the national anthem and there were reports that some of those workers had been calling out his name as “Kamaluddin.”
Touching upon this national anthem controversy that has taken the state by storm, in a popular Malayalam TV programme “Point Blank” on Asianet News TV, Jimmi James interviewed Loknath Behera, Kerala’s Director General of Police, who had worked with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and had been involved in highly sensitive cases inclding the Staines case, Mumbai serial blast, Purulia arms case, among others.
We have brought you a quick recap of the questions asked by Jimmi James on Asianet News TV channel and the answers by Kerala’s DGP Loknath Behera:
Will anyone who does not stand up while the national anthem is played in theatres be picked up by Kerala Police and if yes, under which section?
There is no such law or section under which such an arrest can be made – action is taken based on the recent Supreme Court judgement on respecting the national anthem. In this context, legal pundits say that those who violate it are violating SC’s judgement.
Then why were delegates arrested at IFFK?
The media has not reported what happened at IFFK correctly. Let me tell you what happened – some delegates did not stand up while the national anthem was played and those people who were sitting behind them began to beat them. Sensing that this could become a full-fledged fight, cops took action and arrested them.
Then why did the police arrest only those delegates who did not stand up during the national anthem? By your logic, the cops should have arrested those who beat them too.
In situations like that, a police station is the safest and a most secure place to prevent a public spat. Police made those arrests to save people from getting beaten up.
Going by this logic, if some guys eve-tease girls on the road, will Kerala cops arrest the girls and not the eve-teasers?
You are deviating from this discussion here – I cannot answer to whatever you are thinking.
My question is very clear – if the police intervened to stop a public spat, why was it that only those who did not stand up for the national anthem were arrested? Those who beat them were not taken into custody – why is that?
The situation was saved from a grave situation.
From what has happened so far, would it be correct to say that Kerala police is very enthusiastic about taking immediate action when it comes to arresting people who don’t stand up to respect the national anthem in theatres?
The police are not emotional people to act like that – we act on situations that need to be tackled. Sometimes some mistakes also take place.
If you as the DGP and we as the media had not intervened it, would the same people have been booked under sedition?
Not at all
Some party workers protested in front of Director Kamal’s residence by singing the national anthem – which is an offence according to law, but Kerala police took no action.
I am not aware of this incident but if there was any chance of violence, the police would have intervened immediately. I don’t look at party affiliations when taking action.
Let us discuss another important topic. Are Kerala cops prejudiced while tackling terrorism-related cases?
Terrorism is a growing global threat and has to be handled in a sensitive way. I cannot change history, I can only talk about the future.
This interview with Kerala’s DGP Loknath Behera caught many eyeballs and provoked many discussions but the most interesting aspect of this is that Loknath Behera IPS is not a Malayali but spoke the language and answered almost every question in Malayalam – hats off to this super cop for mastering a very tough language!