Kerala Police have arrested a local leader of CPI (M)’s trade union wing CITU on charges of demanding ‘nokku kooli’ from a young woman IAS officer for unloading her home appliances.
‘Nooku kooli’ is the amount collected by head load workers as gawking charges for work done by cranes or machines. Even if a house owner unloads his own luggage from a truck, the workers would demand an amount as ‘nokku kooli’.
The arrested 28-year-old CITU leader, B Murali, was remanded in judicial custody on Sunday. The police have registered a case against four others belonging to the CITU-affiliated head load workers.
Trouble began for IAS officer T V Anupama, who was recently appointed as Kerala Food Safety Commissioner, on June 26 when she reached the state capital. When her truck driver had almost unloaded the home appliances, barring a washing machine, four head load workers approached them staking claim for unloading. Then the workers unloaded the washing machine, but demanded wages for the entire load.
When Anupama refused to pay the ‘nokku kooli’, the workers left the scene. Next day, their leader Murali approached the house owner, asking to get the ‘nokku kooli’ exacted from the IAS officer.
According to police, the CITU leader repeatedly threatened the officer demanding money and even went on to say that they would not spare the IAS officer from the payment. As the harassment continued, Anupama complained to the police on Saturday leading to the arrest of the CITU leader next day.
The State Labour Department had banned ‘nokku kooli’ and declared Thiruvananthapuram district free from the menace. However, the practice has been continuing overtly. The ‘nokku kooli’, a demonstration of trade union militancy, has contributed for scaring away investors in Kerala.