A young woman, a very young woman, enters her car with two women friends. They had just attended a seminar on sexual assault survival and it was late evening. Suddenly, they are accosted by six men and a woman. One man gets on the bonnet of the car. Another man draws a gun.
The windows are rolled up. She cannot hear what the accosters are saying. To roll down the windows, she must start the car. Which she does. The outsiders, fearing the car will escape, try to smash the windows.
What should she do? Well, most must have guessed correctly. She drove off. In the melee, one of the accosters got hurt. She headed for the police-station. In the meantime, using her presence of mind, one of the girls phones the cops. Soon, they see the flashing lights of the police car and, thankful, they stop.
They are arrested. Why?
The ‘six plus one’ were actually the police in civvies. They were trying to apprehend drunk drivers and juvenile drinkers. They thought the youngster may have been in possession of hard liquor, hence, the Rambo treatment—seven against three, gun, bonnet dance, chase, the works.
Now you be the judge.
What would you have done? Meekly submitted, hands held high? Be assaulted, or molested, or worse? Or made a run for it, circumstances permitting? There appears no option.
First, let us get the facts. Police in mufti at night. Non-identifiable badges. Young women were aware of attacks and such instances were fresh in their mind. The cops not able to convey their identity clearly enough; the windows were rolled up. The girls think it is an attack. The cops think they are doing their duty. The girls think of flight through fright. The police think flight was to evade arrest.
It might seem like a comedy of errors but the police in America are armed and are known to shoot first and ask questions later. Suppose they had fired and killed someone or all the three girls? Who would you say was in the right?
Fortunately, no one was hurt. The cop was only slightly brushed against. The young girl had nothing more potent on her than a bottle of water. Her friend had called the police using her cell-phone. They had stopped on recognising the flashing lights on the police car. All they did was run away from the police (which they did not know) and called the cops to help. The girls were arrested for trying to escape, that is, evading arrest.
The public prosecutor refused to press charges against the girls. He was right in doing that. The police need to identify themselves; otherwise, how does one distinguish the cops from the robbers?
Yet, there is an unanswered question. What is the best recourse, when one is caught in such a situation? And what should the police do, to avoid such an incident?
Maybe start by reducing the number of cops on any one beat. Does one need seven people to check on drunk drivers? And that too armed? In India, more than five people in a heist are termed dacoits. If the police had been found guilty of injury, they would have been in serious trouble. Why not train and sensitise the force? Make them attend sessions on the need and merits of making arrests. Publicise such real-life incidents to avoid recurrences. Maybe even have, or raise, the minimum IQ requirements for delicate work.
Anyway, thank God! All’s well that ends well... Until the next screw-up.
Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected] or [email protected]
Max Life Penalised Rs10 lakh
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)...
‘Export or perish’ was the clarion call given by Jawaharlal Nehru. Now, with a staggering import bill of $491.9 billion, India needs to stop imports of cheap goods and encourage buying indigenous equipment, even if it costs 15% to 20% higher than overseas
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Anand Sharma, minister for commerce and industry, has confirmed India's exports at $300.3 billion as against a staggering import bill of $491.9 billion during the year 2012-13.
He has further stated that 10 countries, which account for this trade deficit of $191.6 billion, are China, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Venezuela, Nigeria, Australia and Indonesia. These account for as much as 76.5% of our deficit. There are 70 more countries that have a favourable balance of trade against India!
The reasons are not far to seek. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Venezuela and Nigeria are our principal suppliers of oil and gas, which we produce indigenously but in insufficient quantity and thus have to import for catering our growing needs. Australia and Indonesia supply coal, again an essential energy base. India has the resources in substantial quantity but is unable to excavate and distribute in an efficient manner, due to bureaucratic bungling in environmental clearances and logistical issues.
China is well entrenched in India in supplying cheap electronic goods, thereby killing the domestic industry and, of course supplying various power generating equipments, which have been found to be of inferior quality and workmanship. However, this factor is conveniently overlooked due to cheaper Yuan credit that China can give.
It took months of protests and appeals before the government imposed an increased tariff on these electrical equipments that were actually hurting the indigenous industry.
Now, the Heavy Industry Minister Praful Patel is seeking to have the import duty cut to 14% from the revised rate of 21% imposed a few months earlier. We do not know what has caused him to make this suggestion.
On these issues, we appear to brazenly overlook the fact that we need to seriously improve our own production capacity of all electrical power generating equipments, which we import from China, the main supplier, and others.
Secondly, apart from maintaining the current tariff, the government must consider giving a preferential treatment in obtaining indigenous equipment, even if these are 15% to 20% higher than the imported counterparts. Treating such supplies as "deemed export" is one thing, but giving this sort of direct price advantage is a key element to facilitate growth. Besides, a whole lot of foreign exchange can be saved in this manner. Employment opportunities will increase as will consumption and growth of essential raw materials, like steel, that are indigenously made.
The Government must have a think tank to work on these lines of import substitution more seriously than what it being done so far.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)