When we talk of police force, the first thing that comes to mind is security and law enforcement authority. The cops show up immediately on any scene of crime. Run away criminals are trapped by cops using their requisite skills and on a broader spectrum, the objectives of Police force as defined by the constitution is to maintain law and order, prevent and detect crimes thus maintaining public peace and order, crime prevention, investigation, VIP security, counter-terrorism, border policing, railway policing, tackling smuggling and drug trafficking, identifying and dealing with economic offences and corruption in public life are some of the responsibilities of police. The Police force is required to exhibit integrity of the highest order to retain its subsistence.
Most of the above pre-requisites have become just a matter of display in theory but where it comes to practicality, it’s all faux imagination. Today however strict the head of the department may pretend to be, all things illegal is carried out under their nose by their own department people and most of them pretend to be unaware of the happenings.
On January 12, 2011 during my evening walk to visit my mother, I witnessed an incident which compelled me further-more to change my opinion of the police force. At the cross road of Bharani colony in Vivekanandapuram, Sainikpuri area, Secunderabad, I noticed three policemen in an endeavor to stop people on scooters and motorcycles, haggling with them for a while and letting them go. Some stopped for a few minutes and some a little longer. I watched this while I was walking towards the scene. As I approached closer to the site, I noticed a motorcyclist being interrogated by one of the three policemen. I slowed down in order to hear the conversation but thought it would be very uncouth on my part to do so and hence, carried on walking. I walked about 50 yards and looked back and found the motorcyclist had parked his motorcycle and heading towards the direction we were walking. I stopped until he came close to us and asked him the reason for leaving his motorcycle behind. Slowing down the pace of his walk, he replied that he had left his license in the office but has a copy kept at home and is on his way to get the copy, failing which he will have to pay the police a fine of Rs.100/- to recover the motorcycle from the clutches of the police. He further added that this was a usual practice during the eve of public holidays when the policemen try to make some money. All at once, I realized that the following day was Lohri (A harvest festival celebrated by people of Punjab no matter which state they were in).
It is strange that Rs.100/- was a substitute for a motorcycle license. The motorcyclist kept walking but I wanted to confront the policeman so I turned back and walked towards the scene. By the time I got to the scene; the cops had stopped another gentleman (Army Officer) on a motorcycle and were questioning him. I heard the Army Officer saying that he had been to the club to play badminton and in a hurry forgot to carry the license but the police did not seem convinced. By this time, I was standing next to the motorcyclist and listening to the conversation. The cops felt intruded and stopped arguing with the motorcyclist and looked at me. Grabbing the opportunity, I asked the police what this sudden check was about. To this, the cop said ‘we are doing random check to trap the chain snatchers’. Instantly, I retaliated and question him ‘how checking the license would help in tracking chain snatchers’. Does the license reflect chain snatcher’s profession on it? I could see the baffled expression on the policeman’s face. He must have never expected someone to raise such a question.
My sister’s chain was snatched (picture attached) on September 14, 2010 which is a good 5 months ago in the same vicinity. I thought it would be quite relevant to bring out the subject and ask the policemen about the progress on the case. When I questioned them about it, one of them said ‘go to the police station and they will tell you what happened’. I told them that my sister has been going to the police station every week, and each time she was told that they have still not found the chain or the chain snatcher. To this, one of the policemen retorted with an agitated tone and said ‘madam my chain was also snatched two years ago and I have still not found it. Your case is only 5 months old’. I wasn’t sure that I heard the policeman say something so absurd. It sounded like he was defending the chain snatchers. Well. If the policemen themselves are being victimized, what are the chances that they will be in a position to protect the public from being victim?