THRISSUR: Actor-turned-Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi courted controversy on Wednesday as he made a police sub-inspector (SI) salute him. The incident occurred when the MP visited Puthur in Thrissur district to distribute aid to families hit by a storm.
The local residents had complained to Suresh Gopi that the forest department did not remove the fallen trees at Anakuzhi which was blocking traffic. He approached Ollur police station probationary SI C J Antony, who was sitting in the police jeep and urged him to look into the complaint. “Sir, please inform the forest department to remove the trees,” he told the officer. Suresh Gopi reminded the SI that he is an MP and needs to be saluted. The SI immediately got down from the jeep and saluted him.
As the video clip of the incident went viral on social media, Suresh Gopi told reporters that he did not force the officer to salute. “I approached the officer who was sitting in the jeep to inform him about the complaint of the local residents. I addressed him politely as ‘sir’ and reminded him that as an MP, I deserve a salute and the officer saluted me. I was informed by the Rajya Sabha secretariat that the police have to salute an MP,” he said.
According to the police officers’ association, the standing order of the Kerala Police does not say that the police should salute elected representatives such as MPs and MLAs. Only President, Prime Minister, Governor, Chief Minister, and ministers need to be saluted.
In a Facebook post, IPS officer J Jayanath quoted former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s words, “If you salute your work, you do not have to salute anybody. If you pollute your work, you have to salute everybody.”
Earlier, Thrissur mayor MK Varghese had complained to the DGP on July 2 that the police officers were not saluting him. However, the department clarified that the standing order does not instruct police officers to salute the mayor.