How many times have you come across a policeman that harasses you at the drop of a hat? How many times have you had to be under fire only because you were out late driving? Considering how the Indian police operates, it would seem, being abusive is considered a talent in the department.
My work as a reporter has taken me to quite a few corners of the country. With the change of geography the cultures, languages, eating habits would differ. But the arrogance of the police is omnipresent no matter where you are in this country.
A few months ago, surfaced the video of a Chandigarh girl being slapped by a policeman on an open road in broad day light. Her fault? She had approached a policeman to complain on a truck driver harassing her. Her brother and father accompanying her protested and were given a taste of the same medicine. Sadly, this is not a one-off incident, nor is the abuse of power prevalent only in the lower wrung of the administration. And it is possible to justify this with the theories of misogyny and gender dichotomy and all that babble. But that doesn’t fully explain the extent of police atrocities we citizens have to face on a regular basis. Even the senior police officers resort to similar acts of bullying the everyday jack and Jane. Remember the Delhi Police ACP B.S Ahlawat who slapped a girl protesting against the rape of a five-year old kid?
The capital, indeed, sets an apt example for the rest of the country when it comes to heavy-handed police conduct. I am from Kolkata – a city with its own unending administrative woes. Yet, I found it hard to swallow the tendency of Delhi police raising their batons with impunity. Freely they use it on a passerby, the mud guard of a motorbike, the bonnet of a car, even on a beggar, like they were wannabe drummers practising on any surface that didn’t puncture under the strikes!
In my city, the police are usually OK, but God forbid if you are with your love interest or a date or none of that, just with someone from the opposite gender. One cannot have a moment’s peace inside a car or a motorbike or a public park. The traffic police in their white attires and weathered-white-helmets-from-the 19th century will appear from nowhere to ask inane questions – ‘what you are doing on the road, your name, what you do’ and so on like you were a Jew in Nazi Germany. When they have successfully rattled you enough they will almost coyly poke at your dignity and manage to criminalize a harmless act, such as talking. Though, shell out a few hundred bucks and they will vanish into the thin air just as they had appeared.
Why does India treat its own citizens in such a disrespectful way in the name of “security” while bomb blasts and scams keep happening? Why is moral policing an accepted practise, especially by those that thrive on bribe taking? Is it a hangover form the colonial rule – a strategy of ruling the mass by intimidation – derived from the erstwhile white skinned masters?
Whether Indian police think it is their job to protect the citizens is doubtful (police from the civilized nations do that), but it is clear with whatever little power is invested on their uniform they want the citizens to feel powerless – perhaps one of the worst things one can make another feel.
The fact that the taxpayer money goes into the functioning and the very being of the police department makes such behaviours all the more misplaced. So, are we, basically paying to be harassed?
Also See: CBI – A Caged Parrot Till UPA Leaves!