Monday, February 7, 2011

Of the unlawful and disorderly

It is disheartening to see to what extent the protectors of the law of our land (yes, the ones that wear Khaki uniforms) go to make that extra buck. In the past, I have heard stories from friends about traffic constables taking as low as Rs.3/- to let go of a helmet-less motorcycle rider. I thought they were exaggerated or made up. After all the law and order of a country that is as diverse as ours is in the hands of possibly the most powerful department in the country and of course they won’t be and can’t afford to be as cheap as my friends make them out to be. And how na├»ve of me to think that! No, I am not saying this without reason. I had the misfortune of dealing with a couple of young Police officers (well, I don’t really think they were decent enough to be termed ‘officers’, but I would just go with the term used worldwide) and what a harrowing and humiliating experience it was!

My husband and I were traveling from our home (at Kammanahalli, Bangalore) to our friends’ house (at Koramangala, Bangalore) at around 10:30pm by an auto-rickshaw for a routine Friday night get-together. We normally stay over at this friend’s house and return by Saturday afternoon, so I normally go there in a T-shirt and 3/4th pants which are comfortable for the night. Since the wind was getting pretty cold, I took my husband’s jerkin and put it on. I also put on the cap part of it and tied it up below my chin so as to keep my ears covered against the chill. Little did I know that in those 3/4th pants and covered head, sitting beside my husband, I looked like a young call girl!

As the auto sped along the inner roads of Koramangala, a couple of young (25-30 year old) Police “officers” rode their bikes parallel to the rickshaw and asked the rickshaw driver to pull over. As soon as the driver pulled over, they both got down from their bike and walked towards us. It was already close to 11pm and I was so hungry I could eat a whole Biryani by myself. But what happened next made me forget all about food. For the sake of the non-hindi speaking readers, I am translating the conversation to English.

“Can I see your ID card?”, asked the shorter of the two.

My husband replied, “I am not carrying my office ID card with me.”

Meanwhile I took out my office ID and showed it to them.

“Do you have any other photo ID?”, asked one of the officers to my husband and he took out his PAN card and showed it to them.

“Where are you from?”, he asked me.

“Coimbatore”

“And you?”, he asked my husband.

“Palakkad, Kerala”, he replied.

“What is the relationship between the two of you?”, the taller pitched in.

That was when I realized that I was being suspected to be an “item” as they call it. I took out my “thaali” (Mangal Shutra) and showed it to them and told, “I am his wife.”

Both of them stood there speechless. They couldn’t believe it. They thought we looked too young to be married (although that is under normal circumstances a compliment, at that time of the night and all that hunger, it only infuriated me).

“Do you want to see my PAN card or Driver’s License or Passport?”, I asked.

“No, ma’am. You can go.” And with that they got lost.

Then the auto-rickshaw driver told us that they were looking to make some quick bucks by trying to “catch” us. I was flabbergasted. To think that our Police force is trying to take a bribe (and it has become so common that it no longer is spoken about as a crime) is bad enough and to top it off, why would we pay them anything? What was the mistake we committed? I mean, even if we were each other’s boyfriend and girlfriend (like until a week ago) why would they seek money from us? Is traveling in an auto-rickshaw at 10:30pm a crime? Or is wearing 3/4th pants? Or is wearing a jerkin and a cap to protect myself against the cold?

Isn’t it disgusting to learn the cheap ways our honorable Police officers (well, there are a lot of nice gentlemanly officers whose names are getting spoilt because of such cheap ones) just to make a few extra bucks? And do they have the rights to stop any auto-rickshaw on the road and harass and humiliate decent citizens?

These are just my views. Correct me if I am wrong and do share with me any such bitter experiences that might have faced.

11 comments:

  1. @Sandy,

    Honestly i feel it's better for these police folks to check in doubt..to avoid untoward incidents (like the call center girl murder). As long as its done in a professional decent way to stop and do some id checking and letting go...it's fine..

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  2. Btw...congrats to yu and ur "husband" :-). Have a super wedded life.

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  3. Buddy you have seen the most finest and the BEST cops of this country, at least they let you and your husband off the moment you showed your "thaali", there are 'officers' who go much beyond this and then demand more evidence. If you have a country which is ruled by a bunch of rotten ass holes, this is what you can expect. Glad that you both made it out safely at that point in time.

    Ok ... Time to Advice, please for heaven sake dont go out that late, that too in an auto in Bangalore. Safety is prime than a night-out at friend's place ... :)

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  4. @Chan
    But it is indeed very embarrassing to be at that place, you know? And stopping an auto rickshaw, expecting to earn some bucks under the table is in no way professional, right?
    Anyway, thanks for your wishes! :-)

    @Satish
    They were hardly 25-30yrs old and to even think they have a good 30yrs to go in the "department" only makes me wanna puke.
    And since when is 10:30pm late on Friday nights? It is a trip we make every now and then. In fact, we have to make it next week to Madiwala to go board a bus. What did we do wrong? These days, auto drivers are more reliable than policemen. God, what kind of a country are we living in!

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  5. Sandy.. disgusting cops exist among good ones.. I have some incidents i cant forget ..

    1. My friend was telling once a cop stopped him for some stupid reasons as usual and he asked for money. It started from 150, and the guy kept saying.. en kita salli paisa kidayathu.. take the bike, finally he asked 'dum aavathu iruka?' can u believe it?

    2. My friend got caught in marina, and she had only 30 rs . for petrol.. im talking about in 2007 where u can fill petrol for Rs. 30. So after 20 mins of waiting, he finally got Rs. 10 from her and also recommended a petrol bunk, where they fill for Rs.20. ( Romba mukiyam)

    3. This happened to me when i was in LB, it was my first company and i was just out of coll and only 10 days since i joined work. I was supposed to report at 9.30, they caught me at 9 in the road and asked me to wait till they caught many ppl, finally he asked my license, i showed, he said this is not valid for 100 cc bike. There was another guy caught, he said he has some client call and he paid 1000 rs on spot to go inside, so desperate. And he made me wait till 10.20, till he got 100 rs from each person. And i went to work at 10. 45 to get thrashings.. !! I called my dad he said.. u just gave that guy diwali bonus.. I said yes along with my curse. :|

    4. This is vry recent, last month, my peripa was standing near NIFT .. the cops catched a guy. the guy questioned the cops, there are so many ppl, why u caught me.. he responded saying 'keeripulla pamba dan pudikum' My god...

    I just cant forget these.. NEVER !

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  6. I have one cop story too. It was way back in 2001/02, when me and my cousin we going on a bike and suddenly these guys stop us. Then he asks for license which I had and then he asked for registration, which I had too.Then he asked something else which I dont remember exactly which I had too but was expired.

    He then went away and came back to me and asked "Evvolavu irrukku?" I opened my wallet and had like 70 rupees. He took all of them from me and then looked at the wallet again and told "Oh onnume illa pavam and gave me 10 rupees back. I felt like running my bike into the nearby wall :).

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  7. Now-a-days the bangalore traffic police commissioner and his office line numbers are highly effective and effecient. In case if you get harassed by any cop, you can call and complain to the Commissioner office and they will pitch in to take the necessary action. Check this site.

    http://www.bangaloretrafficpolice.gov.in/

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  8. @Deepika
    Oh yes, I was hoping to listen to some stories like the ones you have written. So it's not just me. :-)

    @Giri
    Seriously, the next time a traffic mama stops you, try saying, "I'm sorry. I have only 5 rupees in my wallet. I just gave 10 rupees to a beggar in the previous signal." Check out the reaction.

    @All
    My good friend Balachandar told me of a 24X7 helpline you could call in case you are being harassed by cops. Once I get the number from him, I shall post it here. What has our country come to? We need a helpline to rescue us from the people who are supposed to protect us?

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  9. by putting the husband-wife and boy-item part.. the item has taken the center-stage :P

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  10. Even if a person is clad in burqa also they will stop.So,definitley it is not the attire but could be the late hours that made them stop you people.Thank God that you people were let off after showing your credentials and were not asked to prove yourself in the Station or Court.I don't mean anything wrong but just imagine the situation of proving one's identity in a P'Station during those late hours.

    Cops ? Stay awaaaaay from them and avoid all situations to confront them.I can say that again.

    Have a nice weekend,
    Kiran

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What do you think?