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.