Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Policemen assault tea vendor for lack of free tea

We talk about the police force being a help to people, a friendly hand towards the citizens of the country; helping them in getting solutions to their problems, and preventing unfairness and crime in society. By now people reading this must be thinking that either I am totally ignorant, or that this article is leading to something else.
That part is true. This article is leading to something else. The police force of any country is supposed to be all that is written above, but you go and speak to citizens, especially those who are weaker, and you realize the terror they live in. And this is something that many of us would have also observed. It may be the poor financial provision to the men wearing the uniform, it may be inadequate training, it may be lack of control, it may be anything, but the police force almost never evokes respect in people. Thus, you read about brave policemen braving terrorists, working under bad conditions, and you feel sympathy for them; and then you witness the normal working like (and read about the level of corruption) and you realize that honesty may be an aberration.
Besides this article that I will be referencing, I witnessed something a few days that reinforced this feeling. At around 9 PM, I was passing a local marker on foot, and there was this roadside vendor selling fruits, and a hefty policeman standing next to him. I was there for enough time to hear the conversation, and feel miserable about what I could hear and not do anything. Essentially, the policemen was telling the vendor to go and get him a bottle of whiskey from the nearby vend, and you could immediately see how the vendor would not be in a position to refuse.
Now read this article:

Denying policemen complimentary tea proved costly for Raju Shukla, who now lies in the emergency ward of Balrampur Hospital. Shukla was brutally assaulted by four cops from the Chowk fire department late on Monday night. Raju, who runs a tea-stall at Koneshwar Crossing in Chowk area, was even branded a thief by the fire personnel and handed over to the Chowk police station. The version of the fire cops though changed in some time and they charged him with assaulting a rickshaw puller.
Talking to TOI, the only breadwinner in the family of five, Raju said, "hum garib admi hain bhaiyya, Koneshwar par chai ka stall chalate hain. Ab yeh log aakar kehte hai ki muft me chai do, to aap hi socho ki agar hum muft me chai batenge to humara ghar kaise chalega." (I am a poor man, running a tea stall at Koneshwar Crossing and these cops demand tea free of cost. If I do so, how will my family survive.) Lying on the hospital bed in pain and unable to even turn on his side, Raju said, "the men from fire department even got my stall removed earlier when I refused them free of cost tea."

The problem now is that the police force has almost zero believability index. Even if the person was at fault (and it is difficult to see how), almost everybody would believe that it was the policemen who were responsible, and the story is very believable. Most people would not expect any action in this case as well, since it involved a poor man, and the police force is typically loath to act against its own.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 2:34 AM