It is a busy public intersection
in Delhi. All around are marketplaces, shops and big shopping malls. And there are
street food vendors of all hues dotting the stretches on all sides.
The traffic red light at this public
intersection is quite a busy one with long queues of vehicles on each side waiting
for the signal to turn green. Throngs of people can be seen waiting for buses,
auto-rickshaws and other modes of public transportation at every road diverting
from that intersection. And in addition to all this, a regular flux of people keeps
coming in and going out of the Delhi Metro station which is exactly above this
intersection (Delhi Metro is an intra-city public transpiration system
connecting to suburbs of Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad).
As I stepped out of the Delhi
Metro station, I saw a street food vendor badly pounding a handicapped man – in
that hubbub of people – and no one was coming forward. In fact, a passerby like
me tried to intervene and was meted with the same treatment. Well, the way he
was thrashing that guy, with his both polio-affected legs, the incident first
Yes, I have seen much more human brutality
than this, but such things always shock me. But I knew I didn’t have much time
and I was about to intervene when I saw this police patrol vehicle. By this
time, I had clearly come to know that the vendor was drunk and the handicapped
guy was a beggar.
So, here was this guy, a street
food vendor and he was drunk, beating a handicapped person like hell and
extending the same treatment to the other guy who tried to intervene, and there
were people all around – most of them able-bodied who could easily take on that
guy but were desisting from intervening. Probably, they all would be having
their own reasons and reasoning.
Anyway, after my initial shock,
my priority was to save this man because whatever was happening was grotesque, grossly
inhuman and could never be justified in any possible way and then I saw this
police vehicle. Well, being a journalist, I am comfortable in approaching
police and whenever I do so, I am quite rigid and straight in my dealings with
That police vehicle was steps
away under the shadow of Delhi Metro stairs and was not directly visible from
the spot where this guy was being badly beaten by a drunken ruffian.
I spontaneously approached the
police and they were there in no time. When a policeman from the patrol vehicle
reached there, the street vendor was still exercising his meek bravado on a man
who needed society’s care and support. As soon as he saw police, as normally
happens, he changed his track. He started verbally abusing the guy of harassing
him daily and trying to show nothing beyond that had happened. Probably, he
thought no one would come forward to tell what he did – even if the handicapped
guy had his shirt ripped apart and his ears had a shade of blood – probably (and
rightly) he thought the police would not get bothered about a beggar.
Well, I was in no mood to let
this happen. I could never have allowed this blasphemy. As soon as we reached
the spot, I grabbed the vendor and pushed him away from the handicapped fellow.
Then, I had some pretty tough and rough words for the policeman as well for
this ruffian – for the police to do something – and for the vendor to dislodge him
from his drunken tyranny.
I knew my words were meaningless
for a drunken fellow of that mindset but it did make other people to join me in
protesting the incident – who, till now, mere just mute spectators. I was quite
agitated, and well, we all should be, in such circumstances. And it took a
while for me to calm down, but not before the vendor had some ‘unofficial
treatment the Indian police way’ and he was made to shell out money for
treatment and clothes of the handicapped fellow. Meanwhile, another person came
forward with a burger and reassuring words for him.
The final outcome was like this.
The vendor would pay for rickshaw and doctor’s fee, in addition to what he had already
given earlier, and another vendor there assured that he would ensure that
nothing untoward happens after the episode. The policeman also said that he
would keep a tight vigil and would inform the ‘beat police constables’ to keep
a tab on the vendor.
While leaving, I warned the policeman
and the vendors there I would come there again tomorrow to check on what I was
I know we live in a society where
there cannot be permanent solutions to such anomalies. What best you can do is
to remain humane in your sphere of life and be true to the principles of
humanity. Yes, it is very difficult, but once internalized, like an incident
had done it with me a long ago, it becomes inseparable part of you.
You don’t need to become a
reformer or an activist for doing so. Just a case by case approach would do.
What we need to do is to remain honest in each case and to remain honest with
what we see – because we, practically, cannot go into the past and the future
of every such incident – or in fact, in almost of them.
When I was leaving, a man came
and told us that whatever happened to this handicapped fellow was justified. He
said the fellow begged in this entire area and would regularly engage in
confrontation with society guards while under influence of alcohol.
That may be true but that doesn’t
allow the vendor (or someone else) to beat this man. What this fellow did or
what he does may be entirely wrong but justifying ‘beating him to pulp’ is
equally inhuman. We have countless men and women in our society who need the
state’s help for their rehabilitation – the help that never comes.
We can do a lot by being honest
to them and to us – helping them whenever and wherever we can.
And thankfully, I don’t think I
am doing something extraordinary by doing so. It is the basic minimum that we
all need to do to express our gratitude for our existence here.
And one should always go ahead of
this ‘basic minimum’.