Sunday, 6 March 2011

In India bribes are an accepted norm

I was arrested and subsequently released by NOIDA police on Saturday. The whole incident was quite bizarre. We had gathered outside Registrar’s office in Noida to protest against corruption in that office. Gaurav Bakshi, an NRI had been asked for a bribe in this office about two months back for some work. He refused to pay the bribe and recorded a video of the babus demanding bribe. This enraged the babus. They assaulted him and his father (a retired IAF officer) and their camera was snatched away. Someone present there clicked the pictures of assault. Gaurav filed a police complaint with those pictures (culprits are easily identifiable in those pictures). Gaurav was offered Rs 8000 by the NOIDA police who tried to persuade him not to file a police complaint. However, he persisted.  Two months after the complaint was filed, the NOIDA police did not take any action.

Rather than give up, Gaurav collected all his friends and decided to protest. On Saturday, less than 50 people gathered outside Registrar’s office on the main road. All of us were shouting innocuous slogans – “Choosna band karo, rishwat lena band karo”, etc. We decided to take a round of the parking area and encourage people to stand up against corruption. However, the police stopped us. So, we stayed on the side of the main road. All of us demanded to know from the police, why were they shielding the corrupt, why they had not taken any action against corrupt people on Gaurav’s complaint? SHO present on the spot refused to reply.

At that time, one person came out of Registrar’s office and said that he a bribe of Rs 100 had demanded from him. Everyone asked the police officers present on the spot to immediately arrest the staff who had demanded bribe. But the police did not budge.

Suddenly, one of their senior police officers came, and without any provocation, on his orders, the police started assaulting people. We were slapped, thrashed and assaulted with batons. Gaurav was beaten up and put into a police van. Eight of us were “detained”. We were taken to a few police stations for the next few hours without being told why we were being transported around before we were finally presented before the city magistrate. At this point, we realised we had actually been “arrested”.