Saturday, November 17, 2012

Scared of the cops

The police force was constituted apparently to protect civilians and maintain law and order. But of course media has brought to light several times their inability to do so. Some have even gone ahead and committed crimes themselves.
Police of different states and cities have also been accused of coinciding with governments to disrupt law and order, and allowing atrocities to take place. Basically allowing people to kill each other, under the banner of communal riots and letting rapes happen, shielding those who committed them — any minister's son — and sometimes even helping to commit the crime.
It is difficult to count how many times police have raped women in their police stations, allowed rapes to happen in front of them or just turned a blind eye to other crimes allowing them to go unreported.
More than feeling safe, when seeing a man in uniform, the feeling is to avoid him as much as possible.
I have never felt more violated than this one day when a cop seemed to have followed me from the market to my colony.
I live in a decent locality with a community centre just a stone's throw away. So walking to it at 10 in the night didn't seem unsafe. I bought a few things from a shop there and was walking back when a cop on his bike stopped next to me and asked me if the car parked further up was mine. I said no and he rode his bike but suspiciously very slow.
He entered the gate of the colony I live in, which is the first one after the market, supposedly patrolling on the main road of the locality. He confronted a man walking when he saw me enter through the gate, probably to buy some time. When he saw me pass he trailed his motorbike slowly behind me looking to see where I would go.
I hadn't feared more for my safety than at that point, more in need of security than then. I didn't want him to know where I lived, I was scared.
So I took a detour from where I hoped he couldn't look. I held back, waited to hear his bike move forward and then quickly opened the gate to my apartment and walked in.
It took me a while to get my heartbeat to a normal rhythm. All the horrific tales of policemen and other men in uniform, raping women catching them off guard or by using their 'authority' to commit the crime, came to mind.
Only few questions prevailed.
When can anyone in India trust policeman? When can I or any woman regardless of her socioeconomic background, at any point of day or night, ask for a cop's help, without fearing for her own safety, without being questioned about her integrity?