A day at the Police Station



So how do you say your wallet was stolen?

I think….

We do not go by what you think. Did you or did you not see him take your wallet?

These other guys in the auto kept pushing me around and they literally thrust me out of the auto when we got near my destination. And the auto rushed away without even waiting to collect the fare. Isn't that sufficient grounds for suspicion?

That is not the answer to my question. You think you will teach us our job? Suspecting is our job, not yours. You only tell us the facts. The only fact we have here is you have lost a wallet. Is that right?

His face shrunk and a scowl was forming. The man in front of him looked like a criminal himself – dressed in plain clothes, half shaven and a surly expression on his face.

The man raised his voice. “Am I right or not?

Yes sir. You are right. May I at least report a lost wallet?

Don’t you bloody try that tone with me! Who do you think you are? The minister’s son? Anyways I am in a good mood today. So I will let that pass. Lost items do not come under the crime investigation department. Go and talk to the officer in the lost and found department.

He literally jumped out of his seat. One could see a sigh of relief on his face.

He now found himself in front of a smartly dressed officer with a pleasant face. “How may I help you, Sir,” he asked.

I lost my purse. I want to report it.

Can you tell me where exactly you lost it?

I was coming in this shared auto.....

Where did you take the auto from?

From Kukatpally.

Did you have your wallet when you got into the auto?

I must have, I guess.

Please continue your story, Sir.

He let himself go and regaled his entire tale of woe. The police man listened patiently nodding his head now and then.

The he said gently, “But, Sir, there are so many police stations between Kukatpally and here. And you are not even sure if you had your wallet when you boarded the auto at Kukatpally. So how can you say you lost the wallet in our jurisdiction?

Seeing the puzzled expression on his face, the policeman explained, “Look here, Sir. Every police station has an area that falls under its jurisdiction. You can report only an incident that has occurred in that station’s jurisdiction.

So under which police station do I report this?

Since there is no evidence that it was lost in our jurisdiction, you can’t report it here. Maybe you can try your luck with the police station nearest to your home.

His voice was calm and gentle but there was an unmistakable finality to his tone.

Two days later 

He found himself in the police station again: a different police station this time: the one near his home. A short portly man in shabby clothes was with him.

Did you have your wallet with you when you left your home?

I did, Sir.

So you did not lose it near your home?

His face fell. He knew where this was all going. He got up from his seat.

His companion spoke quickly to the policeman in Telugu, “Elder brother, my master is from a different state. He does not understand how to interact with the police. I apologize on his behalf.

Turning to his master he said, “Sir, can you please wait outside in the car? Let me handle this for you.

He got up meekly and walked out. After what seems like ages but was actually only ten minutes, he saw his driver walk up to him with a satisfied expression on his face.

Sir, I have arranged matters with the policeman. You will have your FIR. He was asking for a thousand bucks. I told him you have newly taken up employment and not too well placed financially and managed to cut down charges. Five hundred please, Sir?

You mean a bribe?” His eyes burnt in indignant fury.

That is how things work here, Sir. First of all the incident is being reported two days late. Also the crime occurred in a different locality.

Yes. But the people at that locality would not register a complaint either and they said it is cannot be called a crime.” His voice was shaky.

Unless you cough up the dough no police station will register your FIR. I have managed to get the best rates for you. Do you want to niggle over a mere five hundred bucks?

But it is a matter of principles.” His voice however lacked conviction.

So who do you propose to handle this then? Without a FIR, you cannot apply for duplicates of your RC book and voter id card. Without the required fee, you cannot get a FIR.

He noticed the deliberate emphasis on the word ‘fee’. He paused for few minutes, his face in a deep thoughtful gaze. Then suddenly his face cleared. He took out two crisp five hundred rupee notes folded in half from his pocket and handed it over to the driver.

I can’t compromise on my principles but you do have a point as well. So let us do it this way. I have no clue about the working of the police force while you seem to be the expert on this topic. Therefore, I will let you handle all the liaisons with the police. Don’t get me into all the details. I have no interest in all that. Just get me the FIR. That’s it, and for your efforts I shall reward you with a thousand bucks bonus. Is that fine?

The driver nodded his head, a smile of understanding on his face.

Picture Credit: www.clipartheaven.com 

54 comments:

Deepa said...

Sigh. I know how this true this is, my own have often suggested me to offer bribes to people in positions. In my case, it was about a power of attorney and I could afford to wait for it to take its own sweet time without paying anything. But in such cases, when the upholders of the law themselves are so rotten, how really do we go about fixing the system? :(

CRD said...

In my case, it was a pain to report a stolen mobile phone. The khakhi wala made me feel guilty for being so careless and even mocked at me with his colleagues

CRD

Rickie said...

Deepa (in case this is Deepa D), don't you thank your stars that you keep losing your wallet outside India and not here? You'd have torn your hair out in frustration had it happened here!

The Fool said...

In India every little interaction with police is an ordeal.

The Fool said...

The tricky part is when it is not a delay but becomes a 'Yes' or 'No' with complexity of rules allowing them to completely deny one's request.

Deepa said...

Rickie, indeed it is :) But maybe my stars also know that I cannot afford to lose it in India, so far it hasn't gone off on feet of it's own - I hope this doesn't jinx it :) TF: True :( It's bad when they know that they have it in their power to completely deny and hence take advantage of our desperation.

asteria's canvass said...

i have lost 5 phones and 1 wallet..(no im not careless) and after each one i was more worried of the ordeal waiting for me in the form of inquiries,i stopped reporting after 3rd time..im nt scared if my phn or sim is used by a terrorist and im accused for that,who knows i mite gain some weight my family is desperately wishing for..

R.Vyas said...

Thats Indian police for you ! Need I say more ? :)

jaish_vats said...

it's very very true and very very sad . Sometimes when I see movies of the 60s and 70s and Indian policemen in crisp khakis doing their duties sincerely I keep wondering how things changed !

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

A tale to provoke outrage but I loved that final flourish of paying the driver 'consultancy fees' :)

The Fool said...

But I am not sure if things were better outside movies in 60s and 70s. Now even in movies we have only Dabangs, Singhama and Rowdy Rathores.

The Fool said...

Exactly the point.

The Fool said...

In Germany interacting with police was such a pleasure. Here the very idea of going to the police station even to register a complaint gives you jitters and makes you feel like a criminal.

You have had your share of adventures. Being declared a terrorist would be an icing on the cake I guess.

The Fool said...

Thanks Suresh. Nice you caught that. Isn't that the whole mechanics of middlemen? But unless one decides to be a crusader nothing much one can do.

a Rat said...

this is the scenario happening around here sadly. bribing to do their job. nicely put.

Pattu Raj said...

Pay and get the lost (and found ) item.

Sometimes one has to have a bigwig recommend and also pay to get an FIR lodged. It is never easy to lodge one, for the common man. For everyone else it is (Master card) cake walk.

Salute India.

Puru@ShadowsGalore said...

I had a similar experience in Chennai ... have the story here :

http://www.mutinousindian.in/2012/06/my-experience-with-the-chennai-police/

debajyoti said...

wonderful narration! enjoyed reading this.

i entered police station only once. conversation between my friend, cops and the accused was in Kannada. didn't understand anything. just looked at everyone, smiled , and nodded my head occasionally.

The Fool said...

Thanks 'a Rat'. Not really sure what is the solution as well.It is easy to say simply don't give bribe. But not giving a bribe itself in some cases can become a serious crusade against the system.

The Fool said...

That is the problem Pattu Raj. Police is so hostile and unfriendly, one dreads at the thought of empowering them more.

The Fool said...

very harrowing experience indeed, Puru. Strange they took money after randomly making you wait and what they would have done if you have walked off without paying after getting the FIR.

The Fool said...

Thanks deb.Lucky you were able to come out of a police station smiling.

Rickie said...

I wonder if things are better in villages. After all, relations are a bit more personal there, with everyone knowing everyone else.

The Fool said...

@Rickie - Going by movie Singham, probably yes. But then villages are reputed for the much maligned Kangaroo courts.

mynascence said...

Been there, the last time my husband and I went to report a theft at our office , we had insane requests from the guys over there. We found the whole thing so ridiculous. your post brought all those memories alive.

Pratik Mohapatra said...

Yup. this happened with me as well. When I lost my bag which had the wallet and other documents - mainly the passport inside. It took more than Rs 5000 to get a newly made passport in quick time(matter of few days)!
And when you are new in a state, all the drama just doubles up in your mind!

indu chhibber said...

I don't know who are worse-the criminals or the police;or are they both the same--in different robes ?

umashankar said...

That is a classic case study that may be safely incorporated in the social studies curriculum for the posterity.

All of us seem to have had our share of misfortunes with the police, some slight some grievous. If I proceed to write my skirmishes with them, personal and official, I suspect it will need nothing sort of a trilogy. But then I hate trilogies, don't I?

Maliny said...

Thankfully i haven't had the enviable opportunity to be a puppet in their hands. But considering the statistical accounts of our country, i am not ready to relax either, for an attack could ensue at the snap of a finger - any moment, any day, any time of the year forcing me to seek the help of the so called guardians of our nation. Fingers crossed for that not to happen.

Loved the befitting satire and the cutting finish:) I wonder whether there would, surprisingly, be a white sheep or two amongst the khaki clan?

serenelyrapt said...

The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line. The shortest distance is through a middleman. And the more the better. Such is the psychology of the pretzel.

~ Ayn Rand in The Fountainhead

The Fool said...

I fear those were probably memory you did not want brought alive. I should probably apologize for my post.

The Fool said...

Seems like everyone has had their share of experiences with our friendly police force, eh?

The Fool said...

Interesting questions. But I guess the symbolic presence of police prevents some amount of casual crime. They are good as long as you do not have to deal with them on a personal level.

The Fool said...

Thanks, umashankar. You should share your tale of woe to give solace to other stricken hearts that they were not the only ones.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Maliny. You should offer a silent prayer for your good luck and hope the luck continues.

The Fool said...

So true. Such is the way of this world. Btw, I was wondering - is Dagny your real name or from the character in Fountain Head?

Rachna said...

Oh yes, I lost my wallet in a bus from Majestic to my place. This happened many years back, This was one rare occasion when I took a bus. Since my wallet had my DL, I needed an FIR. So, I went to the closest police station at that time. My husband and I were asked to sit down. When I told him what happened in English, the officer who spoke English did raise jurisdiction issue. I said I did not know where exactly the wallet was picked. But, he still registered my FIR. He made me give a letter in writing. He then stamped and gave me a copy of the FIR. All this done in a matter of half an hour. Was I plain lucky? I never did find that wallet. That is not to say that the police are shining beacons of morality, not that the citizens are.

The Fool said...

You were lucky seems like.

themoonstone said...

Definitely a fact. Didn't someone say fact is stranger than fiction and whatever you say about the police force, I will vouch for that as a fact !

Sabyasachi Patra | Filming in Wild India said...

This seems to be the typical way corporates work. Consultants do the job for them for a fee. The details are not expected to be told or emailed. It is understood that the Consultants will "manage" the irritants and charge a fee. At times they are on a retainership basis as well. :)

The Fool said...

You seem to have had you own share of harrowing experiences.

The Fool said...

Eventually if you want to do something, that is what you have to end up doing in this country unless you want to leave everything else and spend your life fighting a crusade like our Hazare and Kejriwal.

sheldoncoelho said...

TF, excellent as always. I was so hoping that there would be a nice ending to this tale.

Well, maybe someday.

Cheers,

Sheldon

The Fool said...

Thanks Sheldon. But this is reality.

shiva said...

this kinda thing happens in every government office from revenue office to road transport office to sub-treasury office to land sub-registrar to police station.i have come across most of government offices from district collectorate.all they need is money and they have inefficient and less work force with bundles of uncleared files.i got my passport in 3weeks after paying 500 rupees to police and few thousands to travel agent.(travel agent pays regional passport officer).till date,i din't see any honest official who did work without taking money.i think you are new to indian society.

The Fool said...

Ok.

dvirada said...

So sorry for the tormenting experience you had to go through. People find it more convenient not to report crimes and rather than approaching the officials. Rightly so because of the 'victim-blaming' and the harassment that entails when you report a crime. You are made to feel like a criminal rather than getting any support.

On the contrary civilians find the officials here in the US so affable. There is so much of dignity and poise involved with the badge and their profession here that you find yourself inspired to join the force as a detective/ Special Agent at FBI.

The Fool said...

True. Foreign countries are so much better in this regard.

Diwakar Narayan said...

This is true to the core. Though not faced myself, but seen innumerable times.

The Fool said...

Yeah. The sad reality.

Destination Infinity said...

My cousin told me one incident recently - They went to some crowded tourist place where their purse was stolen. They went to register FIR with police, but it was refused. Then they contacted many people (since they knew some influential people in that town), brought a lot of pressure on the police, and guess what - The thief comes to the police station and returns the wallet to them!!

In our country, everybody is bhai-bhai as long as there is mutual benefit!! BTW, it is possible to get things done without paying bribe in Govt. office. But we need to spend a lot of time and show a lot of determination!

Destination Infinity

The Fool said...

Interesting story, Rajesh. Sad reality.

Shashiprakash Saini said...

Sad but true

बिकने को तैयार है
यहाँ हर आदमी
कीमत सही लगाइए
मै बिक जाऊंगा अभी
सब के दाम क तख्तियाँ
बाजार में लगी
खाकी खादी बिकाऊ है सभी

The Fool said...

Aptly put. Thanks, Shashi.

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