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Moral cop-outs – who’s to blame?

February 17, 2009

cop-out

No jokes today, this is serious stuff.

Via a couple of friends, separately, I read this equally shocking, appalling, revolting and courageous account on Sulekha.com: This happened in Bangalore.

Excerpt:

A few of my friends and I were just paying our bills and coming out of our regular Friday night watering hole and dinner place in Rest House Road, just off Brigade Road, and most of the women in the company were already standing outside. Some of us outside were smoking, people were happy, there was laughter and jokes, as there were many other people in the street, all coming out, satiated, in the closing hour of the various pubs and restaurants around.

Suddenly from up the street a massive SUV comes revving and speeding, hurtling down, and stops in a scream of brakes and swirling dust, millimeters away from this group of 4 women, barely missing one of their legs. A white Audi, imported, still under transfer, with the registration plate of KA-51 TR-2767. Some millionaire’s toy thing, that in the wrong hands can kill.

Naturally the women are in shock. And quickly following the shock comes indignation. These are self made women running their own businesses, managing state responsibilities for global NGO firms, successful doctors. They are not used to being bullied. So they turn around, instead of shrinking back in fear. They protest.

And as soon as they turn around in protest, the car doors are flung open, and a stream of 4-5 rabid men run out towards these women, screaming obscenities in Hindi and Kannada against women in general, fists flailing. Some of us who came in running at the sound of the screaming brakes now stand in the middle in defense of our women, and then blows start raining down. One of the goons make a couple of calls over the cellphone, and in seconds a stream of other equally rabid goondas land up. They gun straight for the women, and everyone – a few well-meaning bystanders, acquaintances who know us from the restaurant, basically everyone who tries to help the women – starts getting thoroughly beaten up.

Women are kicked in the groin, punched in the stomach, slapped across the face, grabbed everywhere, abused constantly. Men are smashed up professionally, blows aimed at livers, groins, kidneys and nose. A friend is hit repeatedly on the head by a stone until he passes out in a flood of blood.

A plain-clothes policeman (Vittal Kumar) who saunters in late stands by watching and urging people to stop, but doing absolutely nothing else. A ‘cheetah’ biker cop comes in, with our women pleading him to stop this madness, but he refuses action, saying a police van will come in soon and he cannot do anything. Everyone keeps getting hammered. Relentlessly.

The carnage continues for over 20 minutes.

Finally when the police van does come in it is this vandals who are raging and ranting, claiming to be true “sons of the Kannadiga soil”, and we are positioned to be the villainous outsiders, bleeding, outraged. How do the cops believe them, especially seeing the bloody faces of our men and the violated rage of our women, while they carry nary a scratch on their bodies? Don’t ask me! Yet, it is us who these goondas urge the newly arrived law-keepers to arrest, and the police promptly comply, and we are bundled into the van, some still being beaten as we are pushed in. Some blessed relief from pain inside the police van at least, even if we are inside and the real goons outside, driving alongside in their spanking white Audi.

MORE

Despite every kind of citizen initiative against the moral police, this kind of bullshit persists. Goons and their political benefactors do exactly as they want in the BJP-ruled Karnataka.

On the talk show ‘We the People’ on NDTV 24×7 aired on Sunday, there was only one minister from the Karnataka Cabinet – Mr. Dhananjay Kumar (probably selected because his English was better than the Home Minister’s)  – and it was clear from his wishy-washy doublespeak whose side he was on. It is blindingly clear whose side the Chief Minister is on. It has always been clear whose side the Home Minister is on. And it is clear whose side the police are on.

Take a look around – all around us in Bangalore and Karnataka, honest and law-abiding citizens fear, revile and ridicule the police. While goons and their politician bosses live in infuriating impunity.

Looks like we are fast heading towards becoming India’s second fascist state. But even in Haryana where hoodlums run riot, a police inspector was booked recently. Karnataka and Bangalore have always been liberal but over the last few years, life has become harder and more dangerous for people here. If they are attacked, mugged or raped, victims first have to deal with the criminals in uniform.

I wonder what our illustrious police commissioner, credited with cleaning up crime (despite a recent string of unsolved murders and sundry other atrocities on innocent citizens), has to say about the inaction of his police force. Were they following his orders? Or do they report to someone else in a higher place, perhaps un-uniformed?

If people think twice about complaining to the police for fear of retribution or inaction, what does that say about the credibility and accountability of the police force?

These are questions that must be posed to Police Commissioner Shankar M Bidari during the ‘Meet the public’ sessions at his office: No 1, Infantry road. Tel: 22942215. Timings: Monday, Wednesday, Friday – 3 PM- 5 PM.

Of course, to be fair to one officer, he alone cannot provide all the answers.

Warning: Preachy tone ahead.

If the Pink Chaddi Campaign was a beginning, this incident goes to show that it is not merely the chaddis or the chaddi-less that we have to fight. There’s a long embittering battle ahead. But our biggest challenge will be to keep up the tempo of this seemingly eternal protest.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adhitya permalink
    February 17, 2009 3:56 pm

    Being aboard and away from such occurrences, knowing that post 26/11, your own ‘namma begaluru’ is besieged by such foul crap, is very saddening. People really have to take a stand against such cowards who prey on the innocent. But I always wonder if it is of any use when only like-minded people like us end up reading or writing about such issues when actually those goons should be the ones receiving some ‘awakening’?

  2. February 17, 2009 4:52 pm

    It’s the return of the Neanderthal. It’s happening in Bangalore, Mumbai and Mangalore – largely ‘cosmopolitan’ and young cities. I guess its also partly because people like Rama Sene feel that this is an opportunity to get some visibility by evoking the pent-up feelings of a fringe minority which feels that our ‘culture’, ‘values’ are being eroded. Bunkum, actually! Love the cartoons, bro

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