Thiruvannamalai District Collector K.S. Kandasamy made news for saluting a police inspector during the Independence Day celebrations on Saturday (August 15). By doing so, he also courted controversy, with some officials saying he ignored the rule book by saluting the cop.
Kandasamy was handing out awards to officials who had gone beyond the call of their duty. When the name of Thellar inspector Allirani was read out, she came near the dais, collected her award and was about to leave when the collector asked her to take his spot. He then stepped down and saluted Allirani. The officer had taken the body of a 35-year-old man with hearing disability from a field to the Vellore General Hospital when no one, not even his family members, dared touch it fearing COVID.
Allirani had gone to the field in S Navalpakkam on June 14 after getting information about a crowd gathered there. She found Ammavasai, 35, dead after he came in contact with an illegal electric fence erected to stave off animals.
No one from the crowd wanted to touch the body fearing he could COVID spread. When Allirani began dragging the body by pulling its legs, an auto driver came forward to help her. The two together took the body to the GH in the auto.
“The rule book should not take a backseat while honouring someone,” said an IPS officer in Kerala.
The officer, who did not want to be named, told The Federal that a district collector can salute only on some occasions, like Independence Day. “A salute is a gesture of respect towards a person higher in rank in the police,” the officer said.
“What the collector has done is against the rule,” said a retired IAS officer in Kerala. “He might have done it as a gesture of respect to the lady cop, but when an officer has to choose between emotional expressions and the rule book, he or she has to go with the latter,” she added.
A civil police officer in Kerala found himself in a similar controversy for saluting a group of local people who had rescued passengers injured in the recent plane crash at the Calicut International Airport in Karipur. A photo of the cop saluting the rescuers standing on the verandah of a building where they have been put under quarantine went viral.
But the Kerala police said that rule books don’t permit a police officer saluting civilians and ordered an inquiry.
“What he has done was improper, but we didn’t go for any disciplinary action,” the Superintendent of Malappuram, Kerala, Abdul Karim had said after the phot emerged.
The Police Act and the Police Standing Orders of each state give specific directions on salute.