Hail The Cops!

Distressed Friend: Hello! Police Control Room? I need some help please!

Voice: Yes? Don’t you know kannada? Talk in Kannada!

Distressed Friend: Please! I am in trouble…. An auto driver is harassing me and I stay alone!

Voice: Aha! Alone? I don’t care where you are from. If you cannot talk in this land’s language, I am not going to help you. How long have you been here?

Distressed Friend: Please! Does it matter now?

Voice: Yes! It does. How long have you been in Bangalore and where are you from?

Distressed Friend: Ok, ok! 2 years…. I am from Chennai. Can you please help me now?

Voice: Aha! A tamilian? You have been here for 2 years and have not bothered to learn our language??? Why should I bother to help you then?

Click – She hangs up

This is the actual harrowing experience a friend went through last night. An auto-driver, with whom she had an argument about over-charging ( one that I have too every day), refused to go away from her gate and kept shouting at her. My friend obviously panicked and did the logical thing. She called up the police, the glorious enforcer of the law and the mighty protector of the wronged. And, the lady at the Police Control Room, no place less, would not listen to her. Why? Because she would not talk in some language! It is not even as if the cop could not understand English. She did. She just had the same narrow-minded shitheadedness that so many of our countrymen and countrywomen possess, and are quite proud of.

I would not even write about this, if this display of retarded behaviour was put on by someone with no accountability and power. Someone like you and me, the ordinary citizen who has just her little blog to write about her crazy ideas and ideologies. Hell, there are many such dumbfucks sitting in front of their PCs, forming Orkut communities. Well, they have their own world and I, mine. But, this is a cop talking like a rambling bigot. As a normal citizen, my one-point contact for grievances against any harm/threat to property or person, is the police.  But, when the police inform me that they refuse to help me because of the language I speak, or the colour of my skin, or the religion I belong to, something is deeply disturbing and shocking about it all. It is disturbing because this behaviour is not even human, let alone something expected of the police. It is shocking because my Civics teacher in school taught me that the Constitution says no person will be discriminated against on the basis of caste, creed, religion, language or sex. I believe in this lesson. Unfortunately, the people who are required to do not. I wonder what this esteemed lady would have to say, if her daughter is in the same plight in Chennai. Would she advise her daughter, facing danger of an assault, to learn Tamil first before she got into trouble?

Such incidents just strengthen my resolve in the belief that language/religion/caste are being given stupid and idiotically undue importance. You often read about people from such and such a region to be warm and good-hearted. Bangaloreans, travel-books will tell you, for example, are warm and pleasant people. Hmm, haggle with the auto-drivers in Bangalore for a week and let me know if you agree with that. It is all a load of what cows-generate-from-their-behinds. No culture or region or group is better, warmer, sweeter, fun-ner or happier than another. If external strains appear (like the influx of people), everyone just looks after his/her own ass. To hell with culture and manners, and in this case, humanity.

What is the solution to this problem? I do not know! I am just hoping this is an one-off case that does not repeat anywhere with anyone. I also think that the Police departments in our country are under-staffed, over-stressed and poorly trained. Though privatization would have been the ideal solution for its ills, it is clearly not a feasible one in the light of critical importance it holds.  Are people who man these control rooms, trained to act as effective counsellors who can pacify and support the victims who call? I am certain that this is not the case. If only the government uses our tax money to fund such initiatives……! Sigh. It is an utopian dream, I know, but neither am a cynic. Just like how things have improved in the last 15 years, I am sure things will improve too in the future. I am also thinking on how public participation in this can help. Unlike education or poverty eradication, law enforcement is so uniquely the government’s domain, that independent or NGO initiatives would help little. Any suggestions from you?

PS: Fortunately, my friend is safe and fine. The auto-driver went away after hanging around for a while.

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Hail The Cops!

29 thoughts on “Hail The Cops!

  1. A very sisturbing story. This is taking things too far. I also hope this is just a one-off incident, but even this shouldn’t have happened. What if it had been a more serious situation? A life-threatening one?

    Is it possible to make this known to a wider audience? Or perhaps you could report it to the relevant authorities?

  2. I know. What if this has been a more serious situation?? I sure would want to complain…. one of the reasons I put this up. Do you know anyone who can take this up or is there a way to register a complaint against such incidents? Apparently, many other non-localites have faced similar problems…

    But, in case I can register a complaint or can write to someone, do let me know! Thanks

  3. Siddharth says:

    Here’s something I found in the FAQ section in karnataka.com. May be worth a shot for your friend to call up on this number and let the Commissioner know directly:

    How do I complain to the police chief [Bangalore City Police Commissioner] directly?

    If you want to pass on some information about a crime or lodge a complaint against any high-handed police officer, call +91-80-22943400 or +91-80-22943399. Whatever you say will be heard by the City Police Commissioner himself and your identity will be kept a secret. These two dedicated telephone lines have been set up with a view to promoting ‘complaint culture’ among Bangaloreans.

  4. galahad says:

    you could try getting in touch with The Hindu and Times of India, write a letter to their editor. Get in touch with the commisioner. As far as i know, he is a very helpful person.

  5. balram says:

    This is not an isolated event. There have been events like this in the past. God knows how many incidents like this have been covered up.
    Horrible evnts like this would be hyped up for a couple of days and then forgotten. Something must be done to keep such things fresh in the mind of the public.
    The evil that men do lives forever!

  6. galahad says:

    @Balram

    Its true, but instead of hyping it up like what the news channels do, i think we should see how can tackle the matter systematically. Providing feedback to the concerned officials can be one way of reacting. Getting in touch with the media could be another way

  7. Siddharth says:

    An interesting thot … dunno if these guys bother to think if u know kannada when ur paying taxes to pay for the upkeep of the government

  8. Thanks for everyone for those suggestions! Without knowing the name of the lady at the control room, can any action be possible?

    As someone suggested, this is a more systemic problem that requires long-term and gradual changes. Nevertheless, I will call up that number and report this incident. Thanks Siddharth and Galahad!

  9. galahad says:

    @shreyasg

    it should be possible to track down who were the ones handling the calls if you specify when your friend had called them up. even if thats not possible and the person responsible could not be tracked down, i feel it will serve the purpose if steps are taken to make sure such incidents dont happen in the future

  10. Thanks shreyas,for bringing this up :)

    1. I have written to TOI about this,lets see if they something about it.

    2. There is another part of the story that you must know! When I tried complaning,i was asked for the name of the lady who answered my call.Since i didnt know,they informed that nothing can be done about this. Reasonable but then again,it leaves me nowhere!!

  11. vasudha says:

    I think the cops behavior is disgusting! suppose it was a question of life & death for the complainant who called up the police? would not the cop be an abettor alongwith the accused?

    i think we all should behave with equamity irrespective of such prejudices before we demand that the others do so.our own prejudices get reflected in the public,isn’t it?

  12. Well…for starters you could use Right to Information Act for finding out who was at the duty during those hours. Have you thought about that?

  13. Shocking, but not surprising. I am sure this wont be a one-off incident.

    The unfortunate near-term future is this. Bangalore will go the Mumbai way, there will be a political movement that will give voice to “disgruntled” locals who may feel they are getting left behind. “Bengalooru for Kannadigas” types.

    The answer is growth in proportion. Low cost housing, practical minimum wage and that sort of stuff. Must say our city has done better than others so far but bad times may lie ahead.

    I am not justifying this idiotic cops behavior (hope you got some feedback after you complained). But because of the fragile political environment we live in, we got to address these feelings from both the sides.

  14. @Silkboard: I agree on the point about infrastructure (though unrelated to why cops should behave like ruffians!)

    Though I am very curious to know what exactly are the two sides here?

  15. No shreyas, I didn’t say infrastructure and all that. This feeling that Kannada language/culture being attacked comes from the combination of 2 things.

    1) feeling that locals are getting left behind.
    2) ‘outsiders’ aren’t making efforts to learn the local language

    You could argue that both points are unfair. But if you don’t address them now, you may be inviting Gowdas to turn into Thackreys. (Name change was a preview).

    So punish this idiotic cop. But think a bit as to what fuels these (relatively new?) feelings.

  16. @silkboard: I feel both points are unfair and let me tell why:

    1. The ones who will be left behind are the ones who are not willing to work hard OR are the ones who are not being given the opportunity to do so. Now, the latter is an outcome of hare-brained government policies that curtail education and infrastructure. There can be a whole new post on this.

    2. Why should they? Is there a law stating that one should? The sole reason that they are not making any efforts to do so means that they can live and do business without having to. Any language or culture is strengthened from within and not from stopping external influences. This point is akin to saying – let’s stop showing non-kannada movies so that everyone is forced to see kannada movies! Oh, that did happen btw. The only state in the country to do so – namma karnataka.

    Gowdas and Thackerays were born, not because of outsiders coming in. That was just a symptom. The deeper problem was that there was no infrastructure preparation in either Mumbai or Bangalore. And who is to say who are the outsiders? People who came back 5 years and later? 10? 20? 50?

    Btw, there is nothing to think about what fuels that bigoted cop’s feelings. He/she is in the wrong profession, poorly trained and totally unequipped to enforce law.

  17. Arshad says:

    Folks,
    Let us not turn this to a discussion on regionality. This is just the fight betwene the cultured and uncultured. The uncultured represented by the policewoman on duty and the cutured represented by we folks who are trying to do something to change the way things are done today.

    What i have seen in Bangalore is that the real people who care for this place are not the ones who are making noise on anything and everything. They are silently doing their part to save this city. This includes the kid who dont throw garbage on the road to the common man on the street who removes a stone that hit his leg and the street vendor who clears the garbage dumped by his so called “cultured” customers.

    Let us resolve that we will do our best to make things move forward. The so called guardian angels get ashamed and will follow suit. This i have practiced in the community(dont link with religion..community meaning the locality where i survive) and has seen the sceptics follow suit.

    Lets try…

  18. You cannot change the whole country. But a locality is not that difficult to change. How? UPSC. IPS is the solution. If ever there is something called life after death, I want to be an IPS/IAS officer.

  19. @Sridhar: Sadly, Sridhar, I think their empowerment is restricted by the ministers presiding over them. If only, they were given the independence so required. But, I believe changes are taking place everywhere; we are better off than 15 years back. So, this too should happen soon :)

  20. sameer says:

    i want law and order….but want to debate every rule and law before obeying…i feel politicians are morons and corrupt…they dont have the capability to make laws…but i m too busy to cast my vote …neways one vote doesnt make a difference ….i want clean roads….i am drinking a drink from a plastic bottle….when i m done…i want to throw it in a dustbin…i want my city clean…but how long i can carry it if i dont find a dustbin…i throw it on the road….i dont want any beggars….i dont give alms…but once i was going with a friend who happens to be a gal…on a signal..beggar was adamant…i felt embarassed….i gave a coin….if i can make exceptions….one in 100 times i can come across behaviour which does make law and order situation worse

  21. Ok Sameer… Guilty as charged and I get your point. But, my anger stemmed more from the inhuman behaviour of the cop. It was shocking to hear a cop talk like this. Do you not think that even if I am not a ‘responsible’ citizen this kind of a treatment is unjust?

    Moreover, my other point was more to do with the heightened importance we give to language/religion/caste in our country. I still stand by that.

  22. sameer says:

    shreyas….by ur posts u seem to be very well read… i m not…let me tell u an incidence..after coming to office i went to a cyber cafe…i parked my bike near the atm which is ..say …20 meters from the cafe….it was 11 o clock…when i was inside and cops came to the bike..i came out…they said it is parked illegally(it was a shopping complex)…they checked all the papers…didnt utter a word about money..but kept saying that bike would be impounded since it is parked in the wrong place….after saying please for a minute or so…i said ok impound it…they took me to the police station along with bike..i was interrogated by every constable/inspector…one common question was how much is your salary…at the end they let me go..i didnt pay nething…spent half an hour though….
    after that what struck me is that government servants are not happy with their jobs….they dont much of an option…they are frrustrated…this doesnt make them right…but it hurts less if you can understand the reason behind seemingly unjust actions

  23. @ Sameer, that comment “I want law and order …” – you say that so well. I keep burning myself with exact same thoughts. None of us ever think “us” could be the reason for most problems around us. It is always them. Blame, blame and blame.

    @ Shreyas – sorry for going off topic here. But I have to acknowledge when I spot such a like minded guy.

  24. @sameer: hmm… i guess experience plays a part. I have had bad experiences with the cops and frankly, even if they are poor/marginalized, I do not think it gives them any right to behave the way they do. It is just a bad example of power corrupting the morals. I am sorry, there is no reason/background that can lead me to condone such a behaviour. Harassment, in my view, is a crime in itself. So, if murders or rapes cannot be excused based on a motive ( that the accused was desperate for money/sex), this harassment cannot also be excused based on such reasons.

    @Silkboard: I don’t mind :) In fact, agree with you about the blame game and the lack of responsibility. My post did go on a cribbing tangent and I admit I sometimes transfer blame too easily.

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