In an incident that is causing outrage among police officers in Kerala, Kochi's City Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) reportedly sent a constable on punitive duties after the latter failed to recognise her.
IPS officer Aishwarya Dongre, the new Kochi DCP, is facing flak from police officers and social media for sending a constable from the city's Town North on traffic duty for two days as punishment for failing to recognise her during a recent visit to the station.
Dongre, who took charge of her new role as DCP on January 1, 2021, visited the station in plainclothes on Sunday as part of an inspection drive. According to reports, the DCP had parked her official car at a distance from the station's entry.
When she tried to enter the station, the woman posted as sentry allegedly stopped Dongre and asked her for identification. This irked the young DCP, who then meted out punitive duties to the constable.
Following outrage at the apparent high-handedness of the new Deputy Commissioner, Dongre told media that the punishment was in response to the constable failing at her duties, which was to recognise a senior officer and show proper protocol on the day of an inspection.
The incident, however, has not sat well with police bodies with officials from the Kerala Police Association lodging protest against the DCP's response to the simple mistake.
Speaking to The News Minute, a senior official NV Nishad said that though it was the rule for junior recognise senior officers, the mistake was pardonable due to the coronavirus restrictions which mandate the wearing of masks. Nishad contended that wearing masks sometimes hinders recognition as only half the face of a person is visible.
"...Since it is the COVID-19 situation, the senior officer was wearing a mask. Sometimes we don't even recognise people whom we meet daily," Nishad said, adding that the constable was also following Covid-19 protocols which restricted entry to stations.
He also said that the punishment was "not right".
Officials from the Association have also written to the CPI(M) leadership, adding that the woman constable who was punished was only discharging her duties by asking the purpose of the DCP's visit. They have also sought an audience with Dongre herself to discuss the matter.
Kochi Police Commissioner Nagaraju C H also expressed his displeasure at the incident. Speaking to The New Indian Express, the commissioner said that Dongre had been advised against taking such measures in future. He attributed the incident to the young DCP's "inexperience".
Kerala's Home department also reprimanded Dongre for her behaviour and told her not to misbehave with Kochi civil and police officials who already suffered enough work-load.
Dongre is the youngest IPS officer in Kerala.