A late night drive to the Gateway of India and a sojourn to admire the city’s spectacular sea shore turned into a nightmare for a group of youngsters, who were allegedly harassed by a cop because they made the mistake of asking him a simple question.
Most of Mumbai’s nightcrawlers, who have wandered around Marine Drive, Worli Sea Face or Bandra’s Carter Road during the wee hours of the night, are aware of the fact that when a cop approaches you and asks you to leave – you just do as they ask. But, in a democracy, does one not have the right to ask a police official why they are asking people to leave?
Apparently not. And that’s something Anand Sachar and a few of his friend found out the hard way on Sunday.
Sachar and his friends had taken a halt near the Gateway of India, when a police patrol van approached them and asked them to leave. When one of them asked an officer the reason for being asked to leave, the official got miffed and responded by making their lives miserable for the next few minutes.
The former sports correspondent maintains that he and his friends did nothing to incite the ‘bad behaviour’. While Sachar has explained the series of events in detail in his Facebook post, a succinct version involves getting pushed around, abused at and apologizing for asking the ‘wrong questions’.
Meanwhile, attempts at finding the identity of the involved officer and taking an official statement are underway.
Update: DCP Manoj Kumar Sharma has confirmed that Colaba police have launched an investigation into the allegations by Sachar and his friends.
Video of the incident:
“No, we were not drunk. No, we weren’t smoking, let alone smoking up. No, no, we weren’t making any noise either. We were just standing there, admiring at Mumbai’s eternal companion – the Arabian Sea. And it hadn’t even been two minutes since we had gotten off our car by the sea face close to the Gateway of India. It was around 2am on Sunday morning, and us friends had driven to the southern part of the city. All we now seemed was a breather for a few minutes before we headed back to our respective abodes. But the peaceful outing it was meant to be ended up being anything but that.
A cop patrol car with two officers on duty stops by. In the rudest and most crass possible manner, one of the cop shouts and orders us to go home. Out of natural curiosity, we ask, ‘why?’. After all, it had been just a few minutes since we had stepped on to the promenade. But, us asking the reason for five mature adults to be ordered to return home appeared to be the biggest crime that was taking place in Mumbai city!
The cops stormed out of their car, with their tone turning harsher, just kept insisting that we go back home. Before we could fathom what had hit us, they started shouting and nudging us towards our car. So, as citizens, we do not have the right to ask, is it? But that point apart, we sat in the car because the cops appeared to be in no mood to answer our question.
“Such is the state of affairs in our country,” we grumbled once in the car. Like they were in the mood to pick a fight, the cops picked on the statement. “Bhe****d, ch****a kay bol la?” the more senior of the two cops shot back in an abuse-laced spurt. His first name was Jitendra, while the surname we couldn’t read on the badge. “You don’t like country? You go to the Pakistan,” he tells me.
Why Pakistan? Because I wear a beard? Because he was in the mood to get communal? That is when we got back out off our car and requested him to mind his language. Not knowing how to react now, they order us to show our ID cards. When we in return ask them to show us theirs, just to be sure we are dealing with genuine cops and not the hooligans they were behaving like, they are further angered.
“You are asking cops in a uniform for ID? You are questioning the uniform?” We remind them that it is the cops who have been putting up notices warning the citizens of the ‘fake’ cops in the city. But they are not in the frame of mind to listen to us. Because, we as citizens have no right to know whether we are being interrogated for no real reason by genuine cops, do we?
So angry was Jitendra by then, that he started pushing us towards the cop car. Now they wanted to take us to the cop station. For what? Our guess is as good as yours. For the next ten minutes we were pushed, shoved and hit by Jitendra. For what? Again, our guess is as good as yours. But we did not retaliate. Not with abusive language, not with our hands. Because we knew our limits, and what would otherwise be the difference between them and us?
Eventually, they thought of using the car documents as a pretext of troubling us further. But they were disappointed when we presented all our car documents to them. With no charge to levy against us, and with us not reacting, Jitendra ran out of illogical ideas and reasons to trouble us further with.
The other cop, Jitendra’s junior, we must add, had been very reasonable right throughout -his language and actions all in control. All this while one of us had tried to capture as much as possible on camera. While at first Jitendra had no problem in us recording it, he later was adamant that we delete the videos before we left the scene; lest we share with the world how inconsiderate are the men who are supposed to protect us. It remains a pity that instead of focussing on the abolishment of crimes in the city, the cops are busy harassing harmless citizens. In fact, it would appear, that they are finding new ways of making life difficult for the people of Mumbai.
The drive we believed would bring us peace of mind had left us aghast. It had also left us feeling disgusted – that how there are a few cops who could spoil the lot, much like rotten apples!”