Amidst rising discontent throughout the country with respect to the reluctant attitude of police when it comes to helping women with their complaints, a Gomti incident last night showed that the Indian Police give less than two shits to actual women safety and much more attention to moral lectures.
Puja Awasthi was travelling from Gomti Nagar to Aliganj last night at 9 pm when a motorbike started following her vehicle from somewhere around The Taj. She could find a single police post to complain at before the Kapoorthala crossing and when she did find one, they gave excuses like not having a pen in order to not lodge her complaint. Additionally, she was asked to “not worry too much” as she was now close to home.
In Awasthi’s words, the entire incident proceeded like this:
“Last night, at around 9 pm, I was on my way from Gomtinagar to Aliganj. A man on a motorbike started to follow me from somewhere around The Taj. He would intermittently stop in front of my car- these grainy pictures were taken on the Nishatganj overbridge. I was on the lookout for a policeman/police post to report the matter. Finally spotted one at the Kapoorthala crossing. Told the police I wanted to complain. Was in turn told they had no pen. ‘Yahan pen istemal karne wale kum aate hain’ was the response. (That loosely translates to- there are few pen using kinds who show up here). I persisted, got a pen out and wrote a complaint, insisting also that I be permitted to take a photograph of it. The policemen’s golden words to me were- ‘Now that you are close to home there is not much to worry’.
Furious is an understatement to describe what I felt. I messaged a senior officer who promptly responded and assured me of action.
Meanwhile well wishers advised me to ‘let it go’
Of the many thoughts that run through my mind are:
1. What if I had not been ‘decently’ dressed in Indian attire and had been out at an ‘unsuitable’ hour? Would the police had been still more dismissive of me?
2. What if I was not close to home? Would I have been left to myself to find my way back?
3. What if I did not have access to a senior officer’s number?
4. Why must I let it go? Why must I who makes a career out of writing on woman’s issues have a different attitude in real life?
5. Why is it my fault?
6. What have we learnt through all our candle marches and slogan shouting?
Please do share this post. This is most definitely not about me.”
She also added pictures of the licence plate of the motorbike:
She was met with a lot of social media support and was finally able to lodge a complaint.
This is what she said in her follow up post a little while ago today:
“A huge shout out to all those who responded to my post from earlier today. Thank you for your time and attention.
Some of the points I was trying to make require greater clarification. So here goes:
1. Many, including those who are part of the ‘system’, have suggested that I should have called 100 or 1090. My point is, does it mean that the cop on the road should be viewed as of no consequence or certainly as lesser consequence than a phone number? Why should a cop not inspire any confidence in a citizen? What is my phone battery was dead? What if my phone had no signal? Those who suggest to me that the helplines are reliable, to my understanding, are telling me that the cop on the streets is no good so don’t bother.
2. I have been told that I took too long to report the man. I reported him to the first policeman I saw. Why I did not see any policeman on a 20 minute well lit stretch is not a question that I must answer.
3. Last night was just symbolic of a deep rot in the way we think and work. I am thankful that I got off very light. So this is just not about me- a well networked, well connected professional. This is about all the girls/women out there, who are not Puja. Those who do not drive cars. Those who do not have phone numbers of those who can get things done. I could just as well been part of those faceless, countless others who have no ‘connections’ and hence do not have a distant fighting chance against the ways of the system.
4. My greater concern is the manner in which the police reacted. I was asked if I knew where the man was at the instant I was speaking to them. That was not my job to know or find out. Why is there no system where action comes first and then come the questions? I do not endorse violence or brutality- but it was the job of the police to flash the number so that the offender could have been traced. Instead the hunt for a pen took precedence.
5. The greatest concern is that the policemen at the post were visibly young. If the young have this attitude, how do we expect those entrenched and jaded by the system to do any better?
6. To Mr Biker- you picked on the wrong girl. I am not letting this go. I am an Aunt to nieces. I cannot let this go for their sake. I will not shut up.”
More power to you, Puja Awasthi!
But the question remains: when will the police learn to take public security of women seriously?
Image credits: Facebook, Puja Awasthi and Google
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