Across the state, police are seizing on anything with a hint of Bob Marley; t-shirts, bracelets, bags, posters etc.
They claim that Bob Marley’s picture with his dreadlocks and the cannabis leaves are encouraging kids to take drugs like marijuana.
“When weed smokers walk around in T-shirts and accessories branding anti-social messages and symbols, the young children look up to them as cool icons; their minds are eventually fascinated to try out marijuana…We are confiscating clothes and accessories with marijuana messages or idols associated with the substance printed on it, all for the safety of children,” A Anantlal, Sub-Inspector, Ernakulam told the Times of India.
Another a civil police officer NG Suhruth Kumar, who is heading the mission in Thrissur to ‘free’ teenagers of drugs, told the Open Magazine, that they caught over 200 students for using ganja and that most of them had Bob Marley music on their phones.
The report also states that “some policemen actually believe that Marley was a gang leader of an international drug mafia headquartered in Jamaica.” While police are busy confiscating and arresting those vendors who sell anything with Bob Marley on them, the shop keepers themselves are confused.
One street vendor in Thrissur told Open, “I don’t know who this guy is, but the T-shirts imprinted with his face have huge demand among teenagers. I have been selling T-shirts for more than 15 years, I never knew that this man is trouble, and that selling such T-shirts is a crime.”
While some have raised questions and pointed out that the Kerala police’s actions are nothing but cultural policing, the police are sticking to their theory.
According to the Open report, the State Youth Commission, has called for a complete ban on Bob Marley T-shirts, keychains, bracelets and other accessories.
Students, however aren’t happy at all with this attack on Marley. They point out that not everyone who listens to Marley is using drugs. They also say that this is just a stunt on part of Kerala police.
“All these stunts won’t address the issue. The common man thinks weed is as dangerous as chemicals. So they make them think they are working hard in bringing about a solution to the issue” says Jamshir (name changed) to Times of India.
Publicity stunt or not, the Kerala police’s decision to go after Marley sounds both hilarious and scary.
On one hand you can’t help but laugh at the thought police of a state are actually linking drug usage to a dead reggae icon and on the other hand you can’t help but wonder what will be next on the list all in the name of protecting children.
Better hide your Che Guevara t-shirts, lest they brand you a Maoist next.