“So how do you say your wallet was stolen?”
“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?”
“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.
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