I don’t know if it is the similarity regarding the way you say the names of these two cities or what – Mangalore / Bangalore. The similarities with incidents seem to have just followed.
Last week, a group of women were attacked on the rest house road, just off Bangalore’s happening Brigade road. I happened to speak to a friend of mine who was in someway connected to someone in the group that was impacted. This was a group of middle aged working women, pretty independent in their careers who decided to have a night out in a watering hole. They had finished paying the bills and were waiting outside for a few of their friends to return, some smoking a cigarette when the unimaginable happened.
A group of hooligans in a spanking new Audi SUV came tantalizingly close to hitting them while they were waiting outside. Bangaloreans know how wide our roads are! Being pretty independent women who have never been bullied, they protested. Their protest didn’t go too well with the men inside this millionaire toy! They came out cinema style hurtling abuses and not even hesitating to man handle / misbehave with these women! People attempting to help these women are beaten up, fear grips the place and everyone becomes a by stander including a patrol cop.
As the trauma for these women continues over the next 20 minutes as a cop van finally arrives. The hooligans apparently claim that the trouble was started by these women and ask for them to be arrested. Guess what? The cops comply and these poor women and the people who attempted to help are in the nearest police station. The arrested group realizes that the cops in the police station know these hooligans. The inspector refuses to accept a complaint from the lady impacted most, on the grounds that she was drunk and couldn’t speak to local language forcing another “not so drunk and local language speaking” lady to lodge the compliant. Accepted with resistance and jeers from the hooligans, the situation calms down to re-start the next day.
Being fairly “connected”, some of these ladies reached out to their friends in the media, some to other friends in a position of influence overnight and through the early part of the day. A 6 hour stint at the police station with both parties, an audience for the local MLA with the head of the station and an audience for the affected ladies with the constables, it all happens before someone decided to accept a complaint and file an FIR – needless to mention, the complaint one sided! The rest is history and the numerous forwards doing the rounds say it all. For a change, the media did a good job to get some facts to light – from getting the number of the car published to identifying the names of the folks, they did it all. But guess where the hooligans are? Not in jail!!
Why does one have to protest so much to have an FIR registered? Aren’t all citizens equal under the law? How does it matter how high up you are? So much of hell for these poor women who just wanted to have a nice evening outside together!
I compare this situation with something I recently saw in the States. I was walking from my hotel to the office and there were two cars parked on the road. They had an accident and there was so much calm. The two people involved just sat calmly in their cars and waited for the police to arrive. As a curious Indian onlooker, I hung around to see how the situation was being handled. I was amazed to see the way the whole issue was handled – calm, composed and quite. The only noise was that of the EMS vehicle!
If lives are lives around the world, why does our system treat them differently? Being connected or having the money means nothing if you are guilty – period. If protests and connections are an absolute pre-requisite to get an FIR lodged, welcome to living in Bangalore. I am sure the scene is the same wherever we are in India. It may be a Bangalore today – who knows what’s up tomorrow.
Image Credit: Mamchenko