Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Right at any cost?

I went to a police station a few days ago to report a vehicle that had collided with my almost stationary car as I waited for the signal to turn at a traffic police juncture.  The driver of this particular two wheeler had pushed passed my car to come between me and the police podium in the centre of the road, to try and squeeze b. She lost her balance as she took off, and then careered into my front bumper on the right hand side thereby  pushing me towards three guys on a motor cycle on my left (also stationary!) who then clipped my left fog lamp and damaged it's rim! I got down to reproach the girl and inform her that she should never do such a thing again. However  the young girl had become aggressive and attempted to be physical with me, and so I seized her vehicle keys and went to the nearest police station which is a stones throw away from the incident, to report the matter.

The girl soon came to the police station only she had gathered a HUGE crowd of "supporters" (since it was next to the college campus) who had been NO WHERE on the scene when the accident occurred! In this unruly mob were half a dozen screaming thugs all claiming they were the girls brothers, cousins and uncles, in true filmy style!! The unfolding saga that then took place had me and my girl friend who came over after I phoned her up,  sitting in the thick of verbal abuses being flung around us,  and the scene completely unravelling into an unmanageable mob hysteria and fast becoming a free for all; with the culmination of the screaming thugs getting a few slaps and roughed up to quieten them down!

The police took my side. That was comforting and I am glad about that factor. However I cannot help being troubled by the knowledge that there was no real control, authority nor cohesive management to a simple matter at a police precinct that should have people trained to deal with situations far more complex than this. 

As I sat listening to the ranting of people who had no clue as to the truth of the issue, (most of whom were there for the tamasha), I could see so clearly how wrong becomes right by the insistence of a mob mentality in India. You merely have to gather the "numbers" and intimidate and the  minority will always be placed in a space of feeling threatened.

The Indian male gaze is one that needs greatly to be changed.....
.......you are visually assaulted by those men who desire to show their power to you.

At one point I said to the main rabble-rouser (who must have been in his late twenties), that I was saddened that he was deliberately being untruthful about an incident he wasn't even witness to, and that I was in fact old enough to be his mother, so could he in that spirit comprehend that what he was doing was incorrect.  I saw a momentary flicker of unease as though I had hit too close for comfort;  and then he chose to continue to stir the crowd on,  I suppose to teach me a lesson. Finally the focus became the issue that I spoke English! Well we were colonised,  and so there isn't much that I can do about that historical fact nor the legacy of a language that now is part of our educational system; so where did all this finally boil down to?! 

With the police fearing that tables and chairs would soon start to be smashed, they ran the crowd out with an aggressive show of force.....all the while whilst I sat in a rickety chair wondering what a sad mess the situation had become. I however insisted that the erring young girl had to acknowledge her mistake and apologise if she wanted to have repossession of her vehicle. At the very start of the fracas on the road itself,  I had told her the same thing.....but bravado and aggression appears a heady mix these days as the new street culture of our cities. 

Indian men should be instructed  that "protection" of women isn't about haranguing other women! Mores the pity that simple traffic rules are not implemented with punitive actions of driving licenses being impounded when violation of any traffic rules are flaunted. 

But then simple measures are too much to hope for in a chalta hai country steeped in corruption.
At 54 sitting in that police station I thought for the first time that perhaps my political choice to live in India may have been a mistake......

Sad isn't it that ones spirit sometimes feels so worn down.....

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