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Indian Coppers… June 1, 2007

Posted by Joseph in India.
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On the eve of a mass rally here in the sweat box of Calcutta, I await the reaction of the west Bengal police…..

My last encounter with these venerable professionals came back in March outside the planning commission in New Delhi. It was world water day and I had got washed along with knot of activists from the nearby jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical device and currently a Hyde Park corner incarnation in the leafy center of Delhi.

A gang of activists mainly from the Narmada Bachao Andolen were attempting to give a petition to a minister, they had entered the gates and were conducting a sit in by the front door whilst I stood with a gaggle of other peering through the front gates.

The gaggle had started to chant slogans and generally agitate in an attempt to try and get in…..

They had formed a sort of picket and the faces of the police men inside the gates started to show the tell tale signs of panic as they slowly started clutching their long attack sticks….notoriously known as ‘lathis’.

All of a sudden storm troopers, beefier blue/grey cammo clad paramilitary types appeared by the front door, how they had breached the sari clad gaggle was a mystery, perhaps the ministers secret getaway tunnel…..

The troopers began to try and forcibly remove the sit in, dragging the protesters towards us at the gate. The police then performed a difficult percolation operation. Attempting to get sit in members out without letting us in. This turned into what can only be likened to a rugby scrum, a strange one at that, for team members nor opposition had shorts on or wooly socks, one side was probably less than 5 feet tall on average and clad in saris while the other were the biggest, nastiest Indians outside the RSS death squads (or probably army).

We heaved and chanted trying to keep the gate shut, when behind us more of the swine appeared, some plain clothed. Before I knew it a large guy with an impressive tash had lunged at me and applied what I now know as the hindu death pinch to my bicep….shuddering I turned and screamed at my assailant, the confrontation only induced more of the attackers to join in and they deftly hurled me into the back of an old tata lorry……

This soon filled up to levels surpassing even the Indian bus service. 30-40 sweating protesters jammed in chanting their heads off, in 40 degree heat sealed like a nazi sweat lodge.

The parliament street police station is an old colonial building, elegantly set around a courtyard and run like some sadistic show room and was our destination.

It was full of different police men laughing and joking vindictively at their latest inmates, their jeers however did not deter my comrades who maintained good voice and continued their sit in….luckily the police force is a maliable, chaotic institution and I sat alone and started to put an up standing whitey look on my face; the talk was of prison!

Gradually the protesters were ushered towards a seated officer taking registration at my turn I demanded to know what I had been arrested for and blathered about representation and the nation…..this amused the officer and I think ultimately persuaded him that I didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on…..and at this he told me to chalo….get the hell out: back of the net!

relief, no gruel or buggery for me!

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