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HC says no to armed forces for Sabarimala crowd control HC says no to armed forces for Sabarimala crowd control

Jan-14-2015 | 0 Comments

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KOCHI: The high court on Tuesday turned down the plea for deploying national disaster response force (NDRF) or rapid action force (RAF) for crowd management at 'pathinettampadi' (18 holy steps) in Sabarimala.

A division bench comprising justices T R Ramachandran Nair and P V Asha considered a petition, which alleged ill-treatment of pilgrims by Kerala police, who are in charge of crowd control at present. The petitioner, Save Holy Pampa Project coordinator, had sought a court directive to hand over crowd control to NDRF or RAF.

"We are definitely of the view that the NDRF or RAF cannot be entrusted the task of managing the crowd at 'pathinettampadi' since they are entrusted to protect the temple and other duties are also being done by them as rightly pointed out by the special commissioner and K Padmakumar," the court order said.

It further said that, "The management of crowd is being done by the police and we have been issuing directions from time to time whereby the special commissioner is coordinating the various aspects concerning the pilgrims. No other directions are therefore necessary as pointed out by the petitioner for changing the pattern of management of crowd movement at 'pathinettampadi', that too by entrusting to NDRF or RAF as rightly pointed out by the special commissioner. The service of the police force is exemplary and we also appreciate the above facts. Tedious task of managing the crowd is done by them efficiently."

The court also said that no details had been provided by the petitioner regarding the allegation of inhuman treatment of pilgrims and, therefore, it could not be accepted at face value.

In an affidavit to the court, additional director general of police K Padmakumar had informed that NDRF and RAF were not used for civil policing and that they were not suitable for crowd management at Sabarimala.

"NDRF has the mandate of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters. They are deployed in inhospitable and life endangering conditions. RAF is a paramilitary force specialized for managing internal security crises and riots. Both are armed forced and have lease exposure to civil policing and limited interaction with civilians. Duty at 'pathinettampadi' needs no rapid action but optimum and safe action," said the affidavit.

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