Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yeh kya ho raha hai? (Whats going on?)

The Nithari killings have held my thoughts the last few days. I am so pissed with whats happening – I thought I would do a post on this. But then what’s the point of spilling ink now – when so much blood has already been spilt. Probably the best thing I heard about the whole incident was a gentleman on one of these talk shows. He said “Deviants, maniacs, perverts and fiends have always existed and will always exist – and not just here – but abroad as well. The differentiating factor is – a police force that is ready not just to tackle but also take preventive action”. And sadly that’s where we have been let down. By a police force that does not care.

And really this is not an isolated incident. There are tons and tons of people – who will tell you how the police force – went against their intended role in society. Let me tell you my incident.

As part of the immigration procedures – one is required to produce a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). And that is all the info the consulate gives you about this. Not knowing what this certificate does or is meant to say – my father volunteered to go to the nearest police station and find out. And what do you know – they don’t know what it is either. After visiting 2-3 police chowkies, we found out the procedure to get one. It involved me going to the Police headquarters where all such admin procedures happened. I decided to go by myself. Wrong thing to do. Ladies, never, ever go to a police station by yourself. Always have a male companion. The police thinks something is wrong with you – if you land up by yourself.

A very helpful clerk provided me with the info on how to go about the procedure – while at the same time – passing snide remarks about my lonesome state to his fellow workers in Marathi. I am extremely fluent in Marathi – and understood every word. But decided to keep my trap shut. Form filling took 10 mins, found out no fee was required and I was to return after a month to pick up the said form. During the month, I was informed, a CBI, FBI and local CID inquiry would be held to find out if there were any civil or criminal cases against me and if I lived where I said I did. In short, if I was a law abiding citizen of the land. O wow, I thought, all this in a month. Wonder why all other police investigations so long?

A couple of weeks later I was summoned to the local police station for verification. And while I landed at the appointed time – the constable (or was he an officer?) was missing. I waited an hour and decided to come back the next day. Next day, same status. This time I waited till the man returned from his beat. Found out my extremely ‘helpful’ clerk at the HQ had misprinted my name and my hubby’s name. Not a small mis-print but a complete change in the name e.g. Rajan had become Ravi. Another helpful constable corrected the mistake, after all ‘aap shareef ghar ki aurat ho’ (you are from a respectable family).

I landed up exactly a month later to pick up my PCC. O yes, helpful clerk said, you are most prompt. But the Certificate hasn’t yet been signed by the officer concerned. Ok, I thought, get the signature then. I offered to go and get the signature myself. But of course ‘yeh kannoni mamla hai madam – aap nahin kar sakti’ (it’s a matter of law – you cant do it yourself). He said he would get it done soon. I waited again. He went through my papers – ‘o aap ne mistake ko correct karwa diya’ (you had the mistake corrected). What the hell I thought – he knew there was a mistake! Did he make it intentionally? But why?

After about half an hour he got up from his chair to get the signatures. Came back a while later – showed me the form had been signed.

As I waited for the Certificate – he told me – a poor computer operator had filled in my form. It would be good if you gave him some ‘baksheesh’ (gift of money). O I said, doesn’t the government pay him to fill in our forms? Yes, he replied, but its very measly. Everyone pays him something. Why don’t you go pay him – while I stamp your form. Suddenly the dim-bulb in my head lit up. O he wants a bribe. But wont take it himself. And all this in the SP’s office. Under his damn nose. Ok, I shrugged. How much? Thirty bucks should be enough – he told me. O wow I thought – they even have a fixed rate. So I made my way to ‘poor’ computer operator – who looked very confused – when I gave him the money – but then looked over my head to the clerk signing him to accept the money – and took the money.

I got my certificate – which I ought to have rightfully got – without a hindrance. Alls well that ends well.

Whoever I narrated this incident to – nodded in agreement saying – o yes these things often happen. Really? The more I see incidents such as the Nithari ones, the more I tend to agree with them. The poor parents didn’t have money and so nobody even bothered to hear them out – let alone file FIRs. (First information Report). And all this happening in the place the UP government holds up as a model township. UP – the state for which Amitabh Bachchan is a brand Ambassador.

If this is what model townships are like – I shudder to think what the rest is like.


At 1:50 PM, Blogger woyaokuang said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Twisted DNA said...

I have a phobia about the police force in India. Really. They have absolutely no clue what their role in the society is and unfortunately nobody seems to know what their role is!

Could you please delete the first comment on this post, which illegally took my gold for being the first commenter :D

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

Your wish is my command, twisted :)

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Fuzzylogic said...

The Nithari killings really disturbed me,I thought of blogging about it but couldn't get myself to put that sad state of affairs and those tears and despair without feeling distressed myself.I think when the politicians themselves are corrupt what can you say about the police force.My heart goes out to those poor families who lost their children in such a brutal way.

I had a similar experience with the police when I had applied for the passport and had to get the police clearance.I had to go the police station but my dad did come with me and the lazy inspector there made us wait for half an hour just to make some enquiries and then sat there with the pen in his hand but not quite ready to sign but hinting all the way for some bribe.I was adamant not to give him any but finally my dad didn't allow me to say anything and asked me to shut my big mouth and sit and then offered him some money, he took it and then lazily signed the paper and said now we could go and everything was fine.It was pathetic!I know it was nothing compared to your experience with them but it left me with such a bitter taste in my mouth.

But then for the PCC for immigration why did you have to go the police station?When I got mine I just had to get my dad to go and submit an application at the passport office in Bangalore(where I am from)and by a week or so the certificate arrived by post.Maybe this was a new procedure because all this was recent.

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous OrangeJammies said...

i'm sorry about your experience, Something, and I hope I never have to go running pillar to post regarding any police matter because it will probably be just as bad. But I will also say this: apart from blaming people who take bribes at lower levels inspite of getting a salary, we need to also look at the system as a whole and do something about the payscales constables and class III workers receive. It is virtually impossible to run a home on the kind of stipends these folks get, which in turn, leads them to taking bribes without an ounce of guilt, which, in turn, becomes institutionalized, with the government saying what's the use of raising payscales, they get enough from bribes anyway! It's a vicious cycle and has become firmly entrenched in our social fabric and we need to find some way to break it. And something tells me that, like in all other recent cases, this is a fight that the aam junta will have to take up......

At 4:39 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

my one and only experience has been good-

when we were off to Europe i went and left word with the police to take care of our house( had an independent one at that time in Chennai)

They were very sweet about it

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Sanjay said...

The Nihari incident is indeed tragic and compounded by the fact that the victims were poor.
I don't have a good opinion about cops in India for the most part. I am sure I might have to had one of these things done too, but I don't recall, which to me means things were probably not too bad.
BTW "Kasa Kay?" I speak Marathi too. :)

At 9:01 AM, Blogger the mad momma said...

Cops in India and a lone woman are a recipe for disaster... i dont know how you even thought of making those visits by yourself... as for the Nithari killings.. right now I am more pissed with the media for having a field day and discussing all the gore and sex as though its going out of fashion...

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Orchid said...

I don't think any of this came as a surprise at all....
I haven't had to deal with the cops, thankfully but I got my undergrad degree from a fairly reputed government college. It was a professional college, mind you but there was a system in place there. The adminsitrative office clerks would all sit at their desks, head bent, looking down on their tables. You had to keep money on the table even to get them to lift their heads and look at you!!! We were all guilty too I guess, for accepting things the way they were...needless to say I spent all my allowance on bribes as a student!!

At 12:41 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

Hey - it is not india alone-- saw the movie Irma la douce ( maybe misspelt)last night-happens in paris as well long long ago

At 1:54 AM, Blogger Rohini said...

Yeah. The police in India really do suck. There are even cases of people not helping out others (victims of accidents and assaults) because they don't want to get mixed up with the police.

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous NZ said...

I had the mispleasure of dealing with Indian police too last year. And this was in the Commissioners office at Hyderabad. I had gone to India for a year but as my kids are NZ born, they hold a kiwi passport and got only 6 month visa and was told that I can get it extended there at the Comissioners office after 6 motnhs. The Police officer there on duty shamelessly asked Rs 2000 as a bribe from us for issuing it even though we had already paid the visa fees of Rs 12000 at the bank and attached the reciept as per the procedure ! When we refused, he just said that it will take a bit longer and they will call us when its ready !

If this how they are at the commisioner's office, what can we say of normal police stations.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

fuzzy: I guess law & order is a state subject - so the procedure must vary according to the state. Coz my 'helpful' clerk had a no of other PCCs as well - which he had to get signed.

OJ: A friend who did a thesis on the police force in India - claims this is the major reason for crimes - low incomes - and the fact that they see their colleagues taking bribes, maintaining a good lifestyle ans yet not getting caught - easy to succumb - this combo, no?

art: You are one lucky lady to have a good experience with the cops

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

Sanjay: "Aree marathi manus... me bara hai - tumhi kasa kay?" "marathi bolum khoob wed zaali hai - ata bolaychi confidence rahili nahin" :) I hope that was correct.

madmomma: I am pissed that the media didnt unearth this earlier. And now suddenly they are finding corpses all over the place - in mills in Punjab.... and who knows where else..

orchid: You know, sometimes I wonder if we allow this to happen and therefore give it a further impetus ...

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

art: yeah I guess, it happens elsewhere too - but its not so rampant.

rohini: thats true - no one wants to get mixed up 'in a police case'

nz: Corruption happens from the top - the small guy behaves like he sees his boss behave.

At 4:29 AM, Blogger cardamom said...

No surprises the cops are as dreaded as the ruffians are.

"police wolice ke chakkar me mat pado"
it's the age old adage passed down thru generations...and law abiding citizens (like us) are happy if we can escape out of their "chakkar" at a cost of some 60 odd cents. :)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Usha said...

I have heard similar reports from my friends too although my own experiences have been surprisingly pleasant.
If you belong to the poorer section or are illitereate or have ever been on the wrong side of law the treatment is almost brutal. And that is at the heart of the negligence in the Nithari killings.


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