Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan recently asked the police establishment not to do religious worship inside the police stations. The CM has done a sane, moral and ethical move by doing this, says JohnyML

The Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan recently instructed the Police establishment in the state that the police stations should not have idols of any religion worshiped in its premises. This instruction has evoked mixed feelings among the Police personals as well as the political forces and people in general. While a section of people (read the people inclined to the right) believes that it is an attempt to demoralize the ‘believers’ in the police force and instill the atheistic communist ideas, another section has welcomed it whole heartedly. According to the latter it is a judicious move that would curtail the communalization of the law enforcement agency in Kerala, which has been accused of being communal during the Sabarimala fiasco in the recent months. Many a move by the state government to take women of menstruating age to the hill top pilgrimage place has been reportedly thwarted by the ‘Hindu believers’ in the Police force itself.

It is not only in the Police Stations but also in the public transport systems and other public installations and edifices that one could see the idols worshiped according to the belief of the people who occupy such places. Unlike in the northern parts of India where predominantly Hindu gods and goddesses are amply worshiped in the public institutions, in Kerala one could see different gods and god-stand-ins being worshiped for the state has the provincial domination of different religious denominations. There are private establishments and public installations where secularism is underlined by showcasing the god heads of all the three major religions namely Hindu, Christian and Islam. When such idol worship is carefully placed just above the cash counter or reception area, the message is clear; we mean business and your religion does not matter. Such secularism is perhaps seen as the true spirit of India though the sentiments of the atheists, non-believers, agnostics and none of the above kinds are totally ignored.

Pinarayi Vijayan’s instruction is so far verbal; it has not been made into an official order yet. However, one could read the intention of the Chief Minister who has been making the right moves of late towards carrying out the second wave of Kerala Renaissance. As far as a public place is concerned, it is always good to leave it religion-neutral for different kinds of people occupy it. But India in general and Kerala in particular being fatalist and ‘fate-loving’ in many ways, they believe that there is always a divine intervention in their personal ups and downs. Only when heavy causalities fall upon human beings they momentarily leave the custom and abuse or criticize gods. In such a society, there is no wonder the Chief Minister’s instruction is taken as bad faith or the bad communist non-faith.

Before implicating the Chief Minister with nefarious intentions of filling the force with his henchmen indoctrinated with Communist-Marxist ideals we could contemplate on this issue calmly. Articles 25 and 26 of Indian Constitution assure the right to choose a religion and worship and propagate. Article 26 even gives the provision for the individuals and groups to establish their own places of worship by acquiring properties. That means it is constitutional to have your own temple and do some religious business. The Constitution of India and the founding fathers of the nation had never challenged the existence of god men and god women in our country. However, the Constitution also says that these provisions should be subjected to public order, morality and health. That means when any of these provisions goes against public order, morality and health the state could intervene and suspend those provisions. Hence it is an ethical issue.

If the head of the state feels that infiltration of religion in the police force is detrimental to the health and morality of the public in general he/she has the complete right to suspend it by order even if it is not made into a law. He has the moral capacity and right to suspend idol worship within the government establishments where people of different religious denominations come and avail the services. Besides, the Police force cannot be biased against any religion or should not be veering towards any one religion. Though we cannot completely justify this move vis-à-vis the arguments of secularism for Indian secularism is a sort of allowance of religious interventions in the state affairs overtly or covertly, it should be seen as a move that keeps the society sane and balanced in the religious matters. The Chief Minister has made an ethical-moral choice and there is no reason for doubting or questioning it.