Friday, May 27, 2005

Guardians of the Law or Predators of the Helpless?

The mere mention of Chennai City Police (especially the traffic wing) makes me sick in the gut. Never have I witnessed such levels of corruption among law enforcers. Dressed in khaki, sworn to uphold the law but they still behave as beggars or robbers, depending on the situation.

Take this for an instance. Say you are a working class person, riding your bike (or car) on your way to work. You had a small accident, without any fault of yours, say with a tri-cycle or bicycle . Never mind whose fault it is, since you are apparently more well-off, in the eyes of the so called law-enforcers, you are always the criminal. You are forced to pay money in lieu of damage(no matter, what the damage to your own vehicle), to the less-well-off individual. By elastically stretching humanity and all other virtues, it may appear OK (after all you are paying a poor guy for the damage done to him). But at the end of it, the traffic officers want their cut of the pie too. Why? Just because they are settling the case outside police station/court. And they dont ask you for the money right away.. (U would not hand it over so easily, would you?). They make you wait there endlessly, keep harassing you with the cooked up formalities, until the time they know that their victim is psycologically harassed enough to give in to the extortion. And if you dont speak Tamil, it becomes easier for them to harass you. At the end of it, all you feel like is just handing them the money, and get out of there. Its a lot of pressure dealing with the police and they always exploit this.

There would not have been issue, if the money in question had gone to the government (in the form of a fine). But it goes straight to the pocket of the guardians of law. There have been cases where the policemen use forged receipt books. So dont get surprised, if a traffic sergent hands you a receipt for Rs 500/- (for some traffic rule violation), and then (after a little bargaining) lets you off with a payment of Rs 100/-. Surely he is not paying the remaining amount from his pocket. And the receipt he gave you is duly signed and stamped. So that means, he is using a forged receipt book (perhaps illegally obtained from the same printing press, which the police dept uses) for his personal income.

My sincere advice. If you are in a car or bike, and you happen to hit a bicycle or tri-cycle rider on the road (and lets say its entirely his fault), still make him some payment on humanitarian grounds and get the hell out of there. Dont ever involve the uniformed guys. It will work out cheaper for you. Since you are better-off than the the other party, its you who should pay. Jungle Law? Pretty much, but cant help it.

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