Kerala police to take strict action against those demanding gawking wages

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Anil Kant. File photo | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram,: Kerala police chief Anil Kant on Saturday issued directions to all district police chiefs asking them to register FIRs with regards to complaints of 'gawking wages' or 'nokukooli' as it is known in local parlance.

Kant's direction came after the High Court stepped in to put an end to the practice wherein headload workers demand wages for heavy duty work being carried out by cranes or other workers.

An angry Justice Devan Ramachandran, who has calling for action against this 'militancy', termed it "extortion" and wanted the police to act.

Justice Ramachandran had spoken tough last week and also last month when he was hearing a petition filed by a hotel owner in Kollam seeking police protection to unload materials using his own workers, and blamed the state's failure to wipe out the practice.

Kant, in the order, asked for instant action and a probe on a complaint, adding that the charge-sheet has to be submitted quickly under relevant sections of 'extortion'.

Even though there exists clear laws for loading and unloading of materials at work sites, factories and even where construction of residential units takes place, at several places, the local trade unions continue to extort money, even if they have not done the loading or unloading work. Recently, quite a number people have approached the court seeking police protection.

Incidentally, every time the issue has surfaced, the government especially state Industries Minister P. Rajeev and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan have assured of strict action against the guilty.

These words don't seem to have any effect, as the victims have to run to the court to get police protection for going forward with their work, but now with Kant issuing orders, one will have to wait and see, how things progress.


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