Sunday, January 08, 2006

THE CITY IS UNSAFE - and the Police will NOT act before it is Too Late!

Scene 1:

My cousin and I were having our coffees by around 9:45 PM when I saw the two kids approaching us. They saw me looking at them as they came laughing merrily – the girl quickly said something in the boy’s ear and their laughter vanished as they stood in front of us. It was a neutral expression in their faces as they made the gesture that they wanted some money.

I said: “I would not give any money. I can buy you food. Do you want food?” I waited to see their reaction. And their response was immediate.

“Yes sir. We will take the food”

It was getting late for my cousin. He wanted to go home even before I forced him to the coffee shop. So, I said I would handle the kids and I let him go. I walked with the kids to the restaurant just across the road. They said they were David and Manju.


Scene 2:

I ordered two plates of rice; the kids; David and Manju, wanted a ‘Take Away’. I placed the order and walked out of the restaurant to the platform with the kids. I wanted to know what their background was and initiated a chat with them. They were not going to schools; David was going to school but he discontinued. Manju was the last of 12 children and her dad had died in an accident. Her brothers had ceased worrying about her since their marriages.

I noticed that there were a few people who were having their supper on the side walk where we stood. It was a simple restaurant with no chairs but with circular tables, where people used to have foods, standing. There were groups of people who, I could see, were glancing at me as I walked past with the kids.

It was then, that the gang approached us.


Scene 3:

I was listening to David and Manju, who stood facing me. The men walked in between the kids and me. Just as they walked past, I saw a hand pull Manju along with the gang. I wasn’t prepared for this!

I looked up at the frail looking guy, fair, with traces of beard. He walked past as he pulled the girl.

I reached up to him. He turned back and looked straight into me.

I didn’t speak a word. I gestured to him that I would handle the kids and that he could mind his business. The guy smiled back at me as he loosened his grip on the girl.

Only then, I noticed the hunk who was walking in front of the frail guy. He was dark, held a live cigarette carelessly in his lips and was definitely drunk. And, he was pulling the boy, forcibly. The kid was helplessly trying to resist his force as he dragged him on. I could sense real trouble.

I walked up to the drunkard. I asked him to leave the kid.

He left David. Now, it was his turn to look at me. And then, to step towards me; and then, to lecture at me! (I was getting ready for something else!)

“It’s your mistake. You people are creating problems” he declared.

The kids were near me by now. I was trying to take them into the restaurant - the situation was bad outside.

I was moving into the restaurant as he yelled at me: “You people are spoiling them. What are they doing here at this time? You must not give them any money, not even a single paisa! If you want, give them food!” His voice was strong, loud and smelled of alcohol.

“Give food? That’s what I’m doing now. I’m buying them food. And, I didn’t ask for your advice. If someone does, go and lecture them” I shot back.

I knew it was idiotic to talk to a drunkard; it was dangerous to respond to one who moves in a gang! Still, I said what I did and moved into the restaurant with the kids. I thought it would be safe in the restaurant and the gang would move away. I was plain wrong!


Scene 4:

The food was not yet ready at the counter. I asked the kids to stay inside. Just then, I sensed the commotion behind me. I looked back to see the hunk walking into the restaurant. I noticed some of his gang was inside too! I knew the situation was getting serious. I could sense the kids getting terrified.

“Don’t give any food to them” he announced. Everyone in there, easily around 20 to 30 people, was noticing what was happening. It was now the turn of the employees in the self-service restaurant to be taken aback. The guy kept moving towards the counter at a steady pace, as he cautioned the waiters not to serve the kids. I was very much concerned about the safety of the kids. I had brought them there and I had put them in danger!

“Go away. Go now.” He threatened the kids, as he stood at the only passage that led to the exit. The passage was dotted with men from the gang. I looked at the kids and they were shocked; both Manju and David were crying loud! I had to act, quickly!

“Go away. Just go out of the restaurant.” I ordered the kids.

David didn’t know what to do. He was hungry and was horrified. He said something to me that didn’t get registered in my mind - I just had to get the kids out of there, immediately. I thought he said he wanted food.

“Go to the place where you saw me. Run there and wait for me. I will bring the food. Just go from here. Go!” I ordered so strongly that the kids fled past the hunk and the thugs. They were out of danger. I was not sure if I was! I faced the guy.

Strangely enough, the guy was in a mood for lectures. He repeated what he had already said. “You people are spoiling them. Never give them anything!”

I saw the solution to the problem. I readily agreed with what he said. I nodded and said “Yes. That’s right!” I gestured towards him to move on.

He seemed satisfied with himself. He walked out as his lieutenants followed him. I was surprised to find a lot of people, who were having their food outside, recognise the man. He was talking with them in his booming voice.

I returned to the counter. The rice was not ready yet. I ordered for “roti’s” for the amount that I had paid, in place of rice. They were packed as I looked outside for any trace of trouble that remained. The gang was now dispersing. They walked out of sight. I got the packet and walked up to the coffee shop where the kids found me. There were a few other kids now, some much elderly than David and Manju. The two of them saw me coming with the pack and they ran up towards me. I gave them the packs and warned them never to venture out when it’s dark, again! One of the girls in the group agreed; Manju and David nodded and said they would not come out when it’s dark.


Scene 5:

Just a few yards from the scene of action, a police patrol vehicle was stationed, with three men in uniforms – one of them at the driver’s seat. I approached them and briefed them of what was happening a few minutes ago, how it could potentially have got really messy, how the kids were at danger in the area and how a few drunken rascals ruled the world when it was dark.

They promised to take action.


Questions:

What do the police do about kids that keep roaming the streets at night?
What do the police do about rowdies who patrol the streets, right in the middle of residential areas, at night?
If it is a patrol vehicle, why is it stationed, instead of being on the move?
How well equipped are the patrolling police personnel, to deal with emergency situations?
Even if the patrol vehicle is to be stationed, why is it conveniently parked in the calm area of the place, rather than where the crowd is, near the restaurant and the bar right next to it?
Why are bars being allowed in residential areas, rather than being relegated to the outskirts of the city limits?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The police might not be doing their duty, but you certainly did what you could. Bravo!
Q.

LAK said...

Hey good for you!You know, it could have gotten uglier---you could have been accused of luring the kids with food!

why said...

what an incredible story... my God!

Mandar said...

krish,

i must say that u have indeed been very brave. brave not because u faced the rowdies, but because u didnt let urself down. u finally did what u wanted to do: get those kids some food. u r brave for the strength of your character more than anything else.

so, did the police actually do something? did they act upon their "promise"?

Shruthi said...

That was admirable!

Mridula said...

And then people tell me we are such a great nation! So many people and kids still ooout on the street. You acted very rationally, given the situation.

WA said...

OMG. Scary stuff and hats off to you for keep cool & calm

indiacorporatewatch said...

Interesting experience
Could have been worse or ended much better

My point is the incident going to
lurk in your mind and make you do something for street kids ?

or are going to wish that such things will soon disappear and go back to your routine ?

I do hope it is the former

krish said...

Ananymous Q,
Thanks. But the focus here is on the law enforcers and on what they fail to do. No organisation is all bad, but a lot more is desired from the powerful body.

Lak, true. It could just have been really ugly had it turned the way you have mentioned; but then, prospects of things going real bad are always there and they should never come in the way of good deeds. Think you'd agree.

Why, yes. And all of this must have taken, perhaps, less than 5 minutes, I guess!

Mandar, thanks. I must confess I don't know if the police did something about it. But by the time I had briefed the police of all these, the gang had dispersed and the kids had gone as well.

Thanks Shruthi.

Mridula, that is precisely the point. And that is the reason I have not mentioned the place of the incident. This is, by no means, an isolated instance. What happened here could have happened anywhere.

Wicked angel, Yes. Definitely a nightmare for the kids involved.

Indiacorporatewatch, what I would do about this might not make a huge difference to the state of affairs. It takes collective responsibility to get things moving the right way.
On the other hand, Im glad I was in the position, in the scenario. Yes, it definitely would make me include a few things in my agenda. I never had a clue that things could take such a turn when I took the kids to buy them food. So, this definitely was an eye opener.

And there is no reason to see why such things should disappear on their own. As you rightly said, thins could have ended either much worse or much better that day. The kids got their food, they escaped the hands of the bad guys; but nothing substantial has happened when it comes to the effect that the incident would have on the wrong-doers. In all likelihood, another set of kids could have suffered the plight in the same place, the very next day! Did my action that day make a substantial difference to the state of affairs?

It takes collective responsibility, an awakening on the part of the socially sensible, to reduce the occurrence of such instances. Well, the city is just not safe!

Anirudh said...

We need more people like you. Not heroic perhaps but sensible and concerned.

krish said...

Thanks for your comment, anirudh.