Being a law fearing conscientious citizen, which incidentally makes me eligible for the certificate of being a common citizen, i rarely found myself on the wrong side of the law. And so the brush with Law or Law Enforcement Agency like Police was near to zero. From the other services, Police service is more maligned, and the current image of the cop, more often than not, is seen in negative shades. My father was an ex-serviceman and the pride that he carried even years after his retirement, the pride of having served the Indian Navy, is not to be seen on the face of the policeman who retires. One epithet in marathi my dad ocassionally used to say while comparing the three security agencies viz. military (armed forces), customs (revenue), and the police. It goes like this
“Military Bail (Military like a Bull always in a combative mode)
“Customs Sail (Customs very lax in attitude)
“Police karil te hoil..” (Police always gets the way he wants…”
This kind of image the police force got, may be because it was the very first line of defence and was the force that was very near to the civilians. Our Bollywood flicks and negative news savvy Media too highlighted only the bad elements in policing. One occassion when i came in contact with police and their way of functioning was a rarity in that sense and changed the perception in which i look at them now.
It was in 2006, when on one chilly winter night, thieves barged into my friend’s house, my friend was hospitalized and his mother was with him in the hospital. His house was in the adjacent building. It was around 3 am in the night, when i was tight asleep. My wife shook me to life and informed me that our neighbor in the adjacent wing was shouting “chor chor”, i was half asleep and was not getting what to do, i remember, i just slid open the sliding window and joined the chorus and shouted “chor chor”, i chanted 5-6 times and then stopped, may be because by that time, i was fully awakened. I asked that uncle what the matter was and why he was shouting. That guy gave a very obvious look as if he was questioning me why i was shouting, without knowing the reason in the first place. He then informed me that thieves had barged into my friend’s flat. I was unable to decide on what exactly i could have done at that moment, i took the phone and tried 100 number, the cops at the number must have been into their lumber as well. Nobody bothered to pick the phone, i tried to call the friend in hospital, but his cell was switched off. Then i called the Building’s President number he took the call, he was unaware of the happening as he was in the other side of the building. I told him to call the Police. The poor guy could not muster enough courage to call the police, as he did not wanted any “lafda”, the term he used that day. I took the number from him and rang, it happened to be of some senior police inspector, he took the phone at that hour and politely noted down the address and told that he will do the needful. It must have been around 3.30 by then. At around 3.35 i.e. within five minutes of my calling the police inspector, 4-5 people banged my door and took my name, i felt it were the thieves, they said they were police, i cautiously opened the door and looked through the latch, and i saw 4-5 hefty persons with iron rods in their hands, i thought that they were thieves for sure. One of the cop understood my predicament and he showed his id card and inquired whether i had made the police complaint. They asked me to accompany them to the building and show them the room. I went with them, and just by few metres missed the thieves, who got the whiff of cops, two policemen gave good chase, but they could not get them. The cops then entered my friend’s room, inspected the whole room, theives modus operandi etc. Curiousity had by then set in me, and i could not hold it back, I asked the cop how they reached the spot within five minutes of calling them. They told that fortunately at that time their mobile van was in the locality and the senior police inspector alerted them about my call and they rushed to the venue. The civil police then reached the venue at 4.00 am to inspect the scene and took formal complaint and did all the formalities.
Though the police could not nab the culprits that night, they certainly, averted a loot. That night my perception about police changed, not entirely but to a great extent. After all they too are humans and are working in most inhuman environment with no certain working hours and job full of stress.
My salute once again to those cops who forced change my perception about them.