Friday, October 12, 2012

A mirage called FIR

There is an old saying, “nip the evil in the bud”. It seems that Delhi Police has taken it to its heart. In fact they have made it their unofficial motto which is why they don’t file an FIR - The very first thing needed to initiate an investigation. No FIR – no case – no investigation – no conviction. A tight slap on the face of crime!

In a previous post I told you how my rickshaw was punctured with a big needle by a police constable. Unfortunately, that time I wasn't around so I couldn't do anything about it except mending the punctures.

But in the life of a rickshaw-walla, history repeats itself with amazing frequency. So barely 4-5 days down, the traffic cop again decided to play ‘puncture-puncture’ and I appeared to be an easy prey.

I was turning my rickshaw around to drop my day's first sawari to St. Stephens college when the ‘angel’ arrived with his ‘magic wand’. Without any warning, Mr Vinod kumar, the Traffic Police Constable, jabbed his needle with all his might into the front tire. However, apart from brute force you also need precision to deflate a tire (after all it’s not an ordinary tire, it’s my rickshaw’s tire!). Making use of this opportunity, I asked him why he was doing that, for I was leaving in any case. But it’s condescending for a constable to listen to a rickshaw-walla. Though a constable, he is still placed higher up the hierarchy.

He abused me, thrashed me and eventually did puncture my rickshaw. Realizing that he is deaf to my reasons and arguments, I dialed 100. At that moment he gave a final blow to the rim of my rickshaw and left to hunt afresh.
There was no trace of a PCR van even after 20 minutes. I dialed again. They had their patented reply, “it’s reaching in 5 minutes”. It finally arrived after another 15 minutes.

“What happened?” they asked. I narrated the incident. Their on-the-spot-verdict was, “agar galat jagah khada karega to vo sooaan nahin marega to aur kya karega? (if you stand in no-parking, what else would he do if not puncture your tires?) I was baffled and amused at the same time. Who the hell needs courts when we have such brilliant, just and instantaneous cops!

But as per my experiences, whenever a dispute happens the police take both the parties to the police station. The traffic constable was standing right at the next red-light so I said, "the traffic cop is right there, lets get him to the police station and file an FIR". The PCR cop replied, "why should we catch him, you get hold of him!" “If you are injured I can get your medical done, else go to the police station and file a complaint”, he added. There was no ‘injury’ so it was pointless to go for a medical.

I was getting the puncture repaired when I got a call from Sub-inspector Randeep to come to Maurice Nagar Police Station. I entered the police station with my rickshaw. The lady constable at the entrance was so ‘alert’ that she didn't even notice me until I was well inside.

Another women constable was at the 'Reception' (or whatever they call it). I could actually feel drops of cons. H2SO4 burning my skin every time she spoke; so loud and vitriolic were her words. But I still went ahead with my rant.

“I want to file an FIR.”
“For what?”
“rickshaw-cop-puncture-beat-abuse (the narration)”
“SI Randeep is seeing your case. Talk to him.”

I narrated the story again to Randeep and he sent me back to her to file an FIR. They kept playing table-tennis with me for a while. They did every possible thing to deter me from filing an FIR but I didn't relent. So to kill time they asked me to write an application.

“likhna aata hai” (do you know how to write?), she asked with a scorn. “I can try”, I said. So her junior started giving me dictation. “Likh maan neeya SHO sahiba” (write respected SHO ma'am), she told. After mulling over the structure of the application for a while I started writing…. in English. She had the expression on her face as if I was stripping in front of her. I haven't seen the steepest water-fall in the world but I did see the steepest tone-fall that day - from ear-shattering to inaudible! In the meantime, the sub-inspector left the station and I was told to come in the evening.

I always thought that I am the biggest procrastinator that ever walked this planet but Police beat me at my own forte hands down! My patience ran out and I decided to meet the SHO, Ms Azad. She looked considerate and understanding but as they say, looks are deceptive.

She was one of the most ‘loopy’ persons I have ever seen; talking in infinite loops. After recounting the story to her in detail one more time I requested her to register my FIR. She said, “sure, you can file your complaint”.
“Thank you. I hope complaint means FIR.”
“That’s up to your interpretation.”
“What interpretation? All I want to file is an FIR. It’s my right.”
“I never denied that. Give your complaint to her (the constable)”
“But that’s not an FIR.”
"....BS BS BS...and more BS"

And the loop went on and on and on until I asked, “will you give me a 'receiving' to my complaint?” she said YES. Finally an affirmative! Thinking that I can always escalate the matter, I struck a deal.

The only reassuring thing was - I was not the only one with whom they were word-playing. A girl whose wallet was stolen was asked to replace the word “stolen” with “lost” in her application for obvious reasons. When she held on, the ‘vitriolic-woman’ spewed all sorts of ridiculous and bizarre questions on her.  Two north-east student with a similar complaint were also given a similar treatment.

It appears to me that their sole objective is to torture a complainant rather than help him/her. The magic bullet that they have resorted to - to show the crime is going down - is not register an FIR in the first place.

What worries me though is, when they treat women, north-east students (there exists dedicated ministries for both these sections of the society) and an educated rickshaw-walla with such disdain, what level of help can a real rickshaw-walla, a street vendor, a rag-picker, a beggar, an illiterate and other weaker sections of the society can expect from them?

(PS: 3 days back, I met SI Randeep to know the 'developments' on my complaint. Surprisingly, he did some investigation (good job)! He had written statements of two eye-witness rickshaw-wallas. However, according to those eye-witnesses, the traffic constable didn't punctured my tire, nor did he misbehaved with me. On the contrary, I was threatening the cop (saying, "main tujhe dekh loonga") when he politely asked me to take my rickshaw away!)


  1. "It appears to me that their sole objective is to torture a complainant rather than help him/her. The magic bullet that they have resorted to - to show the crime is going down - is not register an FIR in the first place."
    The bitter truth in most places I think, and the Capital more than most. Will this ever get better, do you think?
    Could a blitzing in the media help? If only, of course, they could tear themselves away from juicer news like the First Son-in-Law.

  2. I have gone through this once. They try everything to discourage you. One thing works though.... you can send the complaint through registered post to SP. Also send copies to senior officers.
    Within a week they would contact you for your statement.... Senior officers are often much better behaved, and after few meetings with them we got out FIR as well.

  3. Try recording (audio/video) interactions with traffic police.
    I tried this: Once I wasn't getting a confirmative reply from Verizon (a phone landline provider in US). I went to their website and pulled back emails of all their senior officers (CEO, Investor Relations, HR, etc.) and sent them an email with complate details (all date/time/name of Verizon call-center agents I talked to and their replies/inaction). My issue got resolved in 24 hours.

    I did similar thing with ICICI (yes Indian bank) when they didn't open my new account for 2 months. After complain to all senior ICICI officers, my issue got resolved in 72 hours.

  4. जे तो बिल्कुल सही कही भाई साहब ... अपराध सिर्फ पुलिसिया पन्नों में ही कम होते हैं और उसके आधार पर नेताओं के भाषण में ...