An East Delhi Citizen's Blog

general riff about politics, education, media, society, cricket..

Archive for the month “June, 2009”

A visit to the police station

I went to the police station in the neighbourhood to file an FIR needed to lodge an insurance claim.

I walked in past the sandbags and barricades inside and found myself in what could only be a reception area. Many men and even some women were crammed inside, in a surprisingly orderly mass. Two policemen were there, noting down details of complaints, updating status of cases and so on. I asked for my case to be registered.
There was a marked lack of enthusiasm; there were cases of rape, abduction, murder and robbery. By contrast, my case was almost a waste of time.

I persisted; I cajoled and would not take no for an answer. People like us have an advantage; I realised. We might have some “connection”, either with some high up or in the press or whatever. We are nuisance, but still have to be indulged. So, over the next one hour, sitting on a rickety chair across a metal table in a dusty room and over chai (paid for by the Investigating Officer, himself), my work was done. As he did the work, we talked.
The Police Station has two Investigating Officers; one whose attention I hijacked for all of one hour. The other one had a Court appearance, scheduled at mid-day. It was unlikely, he would be able to come back that day at all.
In that one hour, many people came in to meet him. These are the people who have managed to get past the reception area which traps most entrants. I was favoured, not “connected” but still favoured, deemed worthy of special attention.  All these people had real problems- one couple’s 14 year old daughter had gone missing (the neighbour’s son was suspected to be behind it); someone from the Women’s cell in Delhi Government come to enquire about “Haal hi mein jo ghatna hui, woh school mein- about the recent incidence in that school” and someone to report that a rickshaw-puller’s half-dead body has been recovered, beaten mercilessly and left for dead in the bushes.

The OIC dealt with all of them in less than half a minute each; collected an enlarged photo of the missing girl, informed the “women’s cell” that he is not in charge of the case, someone else is (who will be possibly back only tomorrow) and asked if the rickshaw puller will survive and has he been sent to the hospital. Cases have been registered, investigations will follow and “whatever will happen, will happen”. You can’t be emotional, he said once to me. There are more than one “bad case” in a day.
Among all this, he created a case for me in the PS diary: in duplicate. Then he took two plain pieces of paper, inserted carbon paper in between, and wrote out a copy of the FIR; one for me and the other to be filed away. Could all this not be computerized and all these writings/ typings be done just once?

In between he talked to me. His son is 14 years; “just the age” for going astray. He wishes he had more time to look over him; but, with a job that frequently ensures he is home only after 10 pm, that is not always possible. He blames the TV and its temptations, but, also says, “Kya karen, bachchen bhi? What to do for the kids? No playgrounds nearby and anyway there is no guarantee that he will play with only nice kids”.

I asked about the progress of the “missing girl”, I have two daughters and I can identify with the stricken look of the parents of the girl gone missing. “She will be back, she and her boy-friend”, he proclaimed. “Give it a couple of days more; their money will run out, they will have their first tiff and they will be back.” Sometimes the police get called in to intervene as the girl’s family wants to extract revenge for lost “izzat” but, mostly, people have good sense and look ahead.
And the rickshaw puller? Too many “charsi”s here, he said. A cycle rickshaw can sell for 1000 to 2000 rupees; enough to pay for a couple of days of fix for the men who would have attacked the poor man, and stolen the rickshaw. For a thousand rupees? You mean the poor man nearly lost his life for a thousand rupees? He smiles. Is there pity in his eyes, or is it just amusement?

I finished my chai, we shook hands. I collected the paper, thanked him and walked away.


Dr. K came to dinner

..the Kashmiri Muslim perspective on Kashmir

Dr. K came home to dinner; his wife was away at their home in Kashmir with their children for the summer, he could not get away and we thought it would do him some good to sample home food.
“Everyone who can, lives out of Kashmir now”, was what K said.
Election results had just come in. As the television screen gave the latest seats tally, K laughed mirthlessly.
“I have never voted. No one in my family, my wife’s family and our extended families have ever voted. None of us have a voter’s ID card. Actually, I do not know many people who have a voter’s ID card anyway. So, how do they get even 26% people voting?”
Interesting question. So, I decided to ask a straight question.
” What will happen in Kashmir? What do you want? India, Pakistan or Azadi?”
K was thoughtful. And then he spoke; he is nothing if not a pragmatist.
“Look, I doubt people want to go to Pakistan. No one is a fool; they understand Pakistan is in a bad shape; aligning with them is not smart.” So, you want Azaadi then, I goaded him; is this what the Kashmiris want?He was silent for a while and then he said, “Look, is it prudent to want to be a landlocked country with 3 hostile neighbours?” 3? Maybe only India? “No, no”, K remonstrates, between mouthfulls of Roti and Dal; “Pakistan will be as upset (perhaps even more than) India if we get Azaadi!” And, China? Who wants China as a neighbour?
So, if it is not Pakistan and not Azaadi, it is India then? K falters, but only briefly. “Iskaa hul nahi hoga; this will remain a problem even 50 years later, you see”. Why? “Too many people are making too much money in Kashmir and it’s troubled situation. A solution does not necessarily help them”.

We talked of Sajjad Lone; “a discredited man; uska to abhi khatam hai”. The Abdullahs; “do you know if Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah did not rig the polls in 1989, this terrorism problem would never have arisen?” The Muftis: “what’s their credibility?”.
I asked K; do you agree that Nehru blundered by going to Security council? Of course, he did. “International Law and legitimacy toh baad mein, pehle to zameen lo”. My sentiments exactly!
There is no normal life in Kashmir; says K. Schools are closed most days. Government does not function. Army is everywhere; tourists are staying away and everyone who is crooked or is a politician (these are not necessarily disconnected sets, I interject and K laughs) is making money.

Why our bomb was a strategic blunder

Indian genius can be put to better use
I am motivated to write this post because of this great post in Pak Tea House blog by Pervez Hoodbhoy.
I am not going to quote chapter and verse from the post, except to say that if you read the whole article and substitute the word “India” for “Pakistan” in the first couple of paragrpahs in the article, it will still make a lot of sense.

I was probably among the one percent people in the country who did not agree that we needed to set off crackers under the Rajasthan deserts to make a point. 

I am not a peacenik; I think those that hold cadlelight vigils every year at the Wagah border are out of touch with reality. My point that time and now is simply this:
A deterrent ceases to be a deterrent when both sides have it.
Ten years back, we had clear superiority in conventional arms over Pakistan. We did not need the nuclear deterrence. Especially since, all our intelligence reports must have already told us that Pakistan also has the necessary bomb-making kit in a SKD condition. Our explosion made us “high” on “swabhimaan” for a few days; but, more worryingly conceded the moral high ground to Pakistan where they could always claim that, “we did not do it first”.

So, from a deterrence based on conventional arms superiority we moved to a nuclear parity. For what? To what purpose?
Another example of identity politics gone haywire. And, it was done in the time of my favourite prime minister
Of course, we are different from Pakistan. Our exports are far more voluminous, have much more technology content  and as a whole we rank a lot higher than Pakistan in technological and scientific progress.  But, it must be asked whether any of this progress could not have been achieved without pandering to empty identity politics. A bomb does not spawn technological advancement.

I would like to end by quoting Mr. Hoodbhoy from the article:
“Eleven years ago a few Pakistanis and Indians had argued that the bomb would bring no security, no peace. They were condemned as traitors and sellouts by their fellow citizens. But each passing year shows just how right we were.”

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