THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Motorists in Sasthamangalam and nearby areas had a harrowing time on Saturday when police put up unlawful restrictions in the name of security arrangements for a function attended by Governor P Sathasivam.
The function was the state-level camp of Student Police Cadets, a high profile event organised by the police, at Special Armed Police (SAP) Camp at Peroorkada. It was inaugurated by the Governor at 6 pm and top police officers including state police chief Loknath Behera attended the function.
No announcements were made about the special arrangements for the function. But at around 4 pm police imposed “strange” restrictions on the Vellayambalam- Sasthamangalam- Peroorkada stretch.
For the next four hours, until the Governor and other invitees left, police frantically cleared the road by chasing away motorists and slapping fines on all vehicles parked on either sides of the Sasthamangalam - Paippinmoodu stretch.
Vehicles parked in specified parking areas were also slapped with notices to pay fine. The sticker asked motorists to ‘report at the traffic police station, Pattom, within seven days to remit the fine, failing which they will be prosecuted.”
Anjana Sunoj, a shop owner at Sasthamangalam, said, “I parked my car close to the parking sign board at around 5 pm. Two hours later I found the penalty sticker on all the vehicles, including mine, which were in the parking area,” she said.
“I didn’t find any policeman there to ask why we were penalised. A home guard said this was done as a part of Governor’s security. He also offered a strange reasoning that the parking sign is meant to park just one vehicle,” she said.
Saju S Nair, a physiotherapist, too had left his car in the specified parking area. “Several persons like me were told that we were fined as part of VIP security. I wonder why the police are not giving any prior notice before planning unusual arrangements,” he said.
A retired teacher, who did not want to be named, claimed a policeman behaved very rudely with him. “I stopped my scooter well within the parking line in front of a medical store at the junction. When I saw the police pasting the sticker I talked to them. But they did not relent,” he said.
“The officer told me that during VIP visits they can do whatever they want. I was asked to keep quiet or face ‘more troubles’,” he said. “They literally chased away many like me,” he said.