Sunday, April 21, 2013

I wish there was some way to just filter out the news.. closing tv, and rarely reading newspapers isn't enough.

Was reminded once again of the 4 times I'd had the privilege to go to police stations in Delhi. The first when someone flinched my purse during a bus ride.  The first station I went to simply told me it wasn't in their jurisdiction. I was 19, alone, frightened, and losing my bus pass , identity card, and 700 rupees, which was probably over an years saving,  had seemed like the end of the world. I found correct police station, and the lady officer flatly told me that it was a loss not a theft. ( Kho gaya likho. likho usmein koi paise nahi the). Thus was the FIR filed, with most of the information being provided by the policewoman, and I threw in a few bits of information as well.

Couple of years later, someone stole my phone. This time I again went to the station, they again redirected me based on 'area'. This station had cleverer cops, after sniggering among themselves and ensuring that I was discomfited even before I started talking, they listened to my story, saw my bills for the phone, and told me that I need to go to court, get an affidavit on stamp paper, get it counter signed, and then they can register the FIR. I was older and wiser, and knew by now , that there are no such requirements for the FIR.  I looked at the man smirking in front of me, and thought of the office work piling up, and the trade offs of fighting with him, vs getting those unnecessary affidavits, vs doing nothing. I looked around, saw the next policeman's leer, and walked out, leaving the theft unreported.

An year later, as another phone got flinched, this time while I was barely 200 metres from the police station, I rushed there and insisted they register the FIR. While the junior policeman argued with me that it was a 'loss' not a theft, his boss, came and told him 'nahin, jaisa madam bol rahi hain, vaisa hi likho'. I could barely believe my ears. After shouting at them ' Maine kitni baar kaha hai, jaisa woh kehte hain chup chaap vaisa hi likho', he gave me a reassuring smile, told me the phone would be traced, and went to another room.The minute he was out of ear shot, the constable again told me ' chori thodi hui madam, yeh to aapse kho gaya hai', while I looked speechlessly at him. The senior happened to comeby and shouted again, got my FIR registered, apologized to me. His eyes belied his reassuring words, and I wasn't surprised when the angst showed in the words  'Main koshish karta hun magar.. ' his voice trailing away helplessly..

The last time I had to enter the police station, for a friends purse snatching, nothing surprised me anymore. I knew the script. First the 'jurisdiction', then time wasting and convincing about the pointlessness of FIRs, and then of course the insistence on usage of the word 'loss' vs theft.

These were what are probably labelled as 'petty crimes'. Low priority bugs, P4s. And the system seems quite geared to prevent them from being reported.

I was reminded of these again and again over the years, at the time of Nithari, at the time of the bus full of men gone amock, again this week...

stricter laws and death penalty makes me laugh... because the alternative to laughing is of course to cry.. 

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