Saturday, February 05, 2005

One fine day...

Every moment of every hour of every day of our lives,we live in a world of deadlines, appraisals, studies, exams, family, kids, future...and suddenly something happens that makes us snap out of it all.There is a strange safety in all those things that I mentioned because it takes our mind away from worse things that happen to people around us.

Manoj has done considerably well for himself.He studied Biotechnology at Mcquaire University in Sydney before he decided to come back and started a firm of his own called Student Concepts.He was also a renowned face in the theatre community of Chennai. He had a normal life with a set routine and then one day he was driving home for lunch and as he took a blind turn in first gear, a motorcycle on the left sped past him and applied brakes suddenly to avoid a collision with a car in the front. Since the motorcyclist was very close to his car, Manoj could not avoid him and hit the back side of the motorbike...somewhere near the number plate.

He could not believe it.Manoj is what we would call a laid-back guy,somebody who thought that every issue could be solved by talking it out and that mistakes happen which is why they are called accidents.Manoj got out of the car apologising and told him that he should have been slower on the turn,in his less than fluent Tamil. The motorcyclist instead, gruffly asked him to come out and pay the damages. Manoj was a little bewildered because it was not entirely his fault.Having said this, Manoj decided to move his car to the side as it was blocking traffic. The motorcyclist taking this as a sign of Manoj escaping, got angry, said he was a policeman and snatched the keys from the car's ignition. Manoj got out of the car and walked up to the policeman.The cop asked him, his tone filled with disgust, if he spoke Tamil or Hindi and Manoj said he could speak a little Tamil.

The cop insisted on taking him to the service station and asked him to come and pay the damages.Manoj said maybe they should call the traffice police and the policeman who was dressed in civilian clothes took out a badge that had Tamil Nadu Police embossed on it. He put the badge back in his pocket and without a warning slapped Manoj.The blow was so strong, that his spectacles broke on his face and he was hurled a couple of meters from where he stood. He fell against the wall and could not open his eyes.His face felt numb. The man moved forward and struck another blow which made Manoj fall on the road.Manoj started yelling hysterically and curled himself in a foetal position to try and evade blows to his vitals. He felt the heat of the road and the dust that he was breathing. He started crying, uncontrollably. The man struck another blow and Manoj tried to crawl near a parked car for safety.There were people around but not a single person intervened.

This could have happened to any of us and for all those people around watching, it would have just been a spectacle to watch and move on but how would the victim make sense of this, of an attack that came unprovoked,during broad daylight and where nobody around had the balls to intervene.Manoj has filed a police complaint but I wish I was more optimistic.When Manoj told me about this, he spoke about a person's dignity and our individual rights but all I saw was the indifference of the people around,the ability to carry on as if nothing was happening around them until it hits us in the face.


Blogger adel said...

How is that "one fine day"????

8:39 PM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Its "One fine day" adel, to highlight the contrast.To show how a day that started off just like any other, can take such a turn...for the better or the worse.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Abishek Goda said...

Or maybe the problem was his education in Sydney! U see, if you are used to Indian rules, you would either have paid up or would have hit first.

Or even maybe, everyone will get their chance to learn, so you don't actually have to interfere to know it all. Hey, indifference is ubiquitous. But, people did wait to see the whole event.

Or the only problem was his "in-fluency" in tamil!? Sounds absurd, but makes a lot of sense to me!

8:18 PM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

When you say that indifference is ubiquitous, where does that leave us??How come we pour in so much of aid when people are struck by a natural disaster like the tsunami while we just stand and watch the spectacle when its a man made attack?That is something that's never made any sense to me.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont know .. where does this leave us.. its like a newspaper repoort of any other attrocity i keep reading .. except this time it is nearer and more it will bother me for a while... but soon as i get busy in MY LIFE... i will forget...untill it happens again.

may be will only affect when it happens to ME???...
are there any solutions?

i think it would /could have been avoided only if there was fear.. fear in the mind of the cop that if he even tried hitting manoj... he will not be spared...

what can we do ? make this incident be known to all and everyone .. make media scream about it ... make it like a post iraqi invasion human rights violation news.... so big that
a. that man called manoj gets justice- and the cop gets to know "its not done"
b. next time before a cop even thinks of lifting a hand .. he thinks again.

we genuinely can do a lot .. can we atleast try..?? if not for manoj .. for ourselves.. just in case it might happen to ME?

11:15 PM  
Blogger Krishnan Shakkottai said...

I think it is a known fact that cops in India have been indifferent in various situations. Only power talks are entertained and not all citizens get their due respect. One thing is for sure that no matter however hard we try to publicize an issue, it is more like a marketing effort for the media, but not really a solution to our problems. Manoj is a CEO of a dot com company and he could have sought some form of assistance from higher officials in the Police department to get even with the individual who harassed him, but has obviously not done it as yet for certain practical reasons.

If a person of certain order of reputation is attacked so mercilessly, one has to imagine what would be the plight of the common man! The real culprit in this case is the society. There is enough awareness for citizens to know there social responsibilities, but it is just that the people are becoming more and more selfish as days pass by. Our country seems to be adept at learning all the negative aspects of the societies in the west. Our country men are sexists of a sort, i.e say for instance had it been a girl in the place of manoj, then we bloggers would not have had any issue to discuss about at all!

3:12 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Dear Krishnan
I agree with what you said and there is not much we can do about it because the whole issue will be forgotten in a short while. This might sound insensitive but my problem was not with the cop who perpetuated the attack but with the fact that nobody stepped forward to help him.This is because inspite of my optimism, I know that such incidents will continue to happen. It was'nt as if the cop's uniform kept them away, because he was in civilian clothes...then what kept them away???

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its Manoj here. I have recieved numerous emails and advice as to what I should have done in the particular incident that happened to me. In my that point there was nothing i can do but cover my face. Its possible to freeze each frame of the situation and analyze it NOW. But at that point...i did not even expect that to happen. I am not physically well built. And a police hit can be so hard that people have been known to die or get paralysed. My slap caused total imbalance. I couldnt see, stand upright or even read for couple of seconds after the attack.

There was no chance of me getting away before the incident. I could not even think of that possibility. The fact that he pushed himself into my car and turned off the ignition key itself took me by surprise. I thought under such a situation..running away from the spot would cause only more problems. I have filed a complaint, shared my incident with couple of people. I did somehow..with great difficulty managed to gather the last 4 digits of the bike as he fled. I have shared this with the cops. I have reported the matter to the highest possible official in the force who took the initiative to find the cop no matter what and has deputed 3 cops to pursue the investigation. Iam still waiting. I would like the cops to do their job. Its been a week and i have not heard anything from them.....I have not reported it to the media or anything as of yet...

Many people have asked me to forget the incident and not pursue it. They feel that its a waste of time. They were concerned about my safety during the investigation as well. Many also adviced me to flee the scene the moment a cop stops you! I was surprised. Is that truly the right thing to do? Follow the path of least resistance? I had one friend who told me that i should use this as a motivation to start a revolution and change the law and order system. Another reminded me of an individual who was motivated after being thrown out of a train and later helped his country attain freedom to ensure that it doesnt happen to anyone else.

I can truly understand why our country is going to the dogs. Its our inability to understand basic human rights and demand it if its missing. If we did that, then maybe we would have better roads, bridges, environment, airports, railway stations, education etc etc.

I feel that another round of Freedom Struggle needs to be fought in India. And this time, it will not be against any country. It will be within. Freedom is not free. Heart and Soul, Blood and Sweat have to be shed to achieve it. We might not be the ones to enjoy that very freedom you fight for...but it will be the future generations. Sounds poetic? Utopian? We were these "future generations" to many people in the past who felt this way.

Gandhi, who profoundly influenced nonviolent disobedience movements in the 20th century, stated that "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good."

There are times i feel that we are being ruled and governed by thugs,thieves and criminals. But as long as we are comfortable at work and home, we will not question the atrocities that happen around you, to your friends or even the worst case....YOU.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Saraansh and Manoj,

First of all, Manoj, my sympathy for what happened to you. I don't know what I would have done in such a situation; all the bravado we think we have inside us tends to be in short supply when we are actually in a fix like this. Nobody deserves what happened to you, and I hope they catch that guy and he is at least shamed.

Saraansh, I share with you the sadness and anger that people watched this happening without doing anything. On our travels together, I think we discussed the Kitty Genovese case: people don't often help in these cases. Sad but true.

The reality out there has now hit Manoj in the face, and I suspect he will never be the same again. I wish we could all learn from what happened to him. The crass brutality of our "law and order" system, the profound lack of justice, is something that should be of great concern for all of us who want good things for this country; unfortunately, most of us prefer to look the other way.

I want to point you to this that I wrote some years ago, not to crow about myself (I promise), but to draw your attention to the innumerable number of guys who told me I shouldn't have stopped. That's what shook me, far more than the man dying. It still disturbs me.

I should say, I am also disturbed by what Krishnan Shakkottai says: If a person of certain order of reputation is attacked so mercilessly, one has to imagine what would be the plight of the common man!Actually this is a crime not simply because of the reputation of the victim, and I'm sure Manoj would be the first to agree. Incidents like these are happening every day in pretty much every police station in the country, apart from other places. Yet we don't want to know about that. Until it happens to someone like Manoj. The way to see that this does not happen to a "man of reputation" is to see that it doesn't happen to anyone; that is, be outraged at that great lack of justice that's out there.

Thanks, Saraansh, for writing this up so powerfully.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

I agree that its a pity that such an issue comes to light only when it happens to people of Manoj's stature whereas this incident would have gone completely unnoticed if it had been anybody else and therein lies my anguish-that even today the reaction to an attack such as this, depends on the stature of the person involved.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Krishnan Shakkottai said...


What I intended to convey has been slightly misinterpreted I guess. I just wanted to stress on the point that there is no actual help that would reach the common man in the case of a similar incident. Unfortunately the poor seem to be down trodden for generations and there are hardly any radical measures to bring in a change in the social setup.

Many of us have the urge to bring about a change in the system, but the percentage remains to be negligible. I personally have plenty of suggestions to rope in a change for the better, in terms of economic and social progress of our country, but as an individual to have an impact on a society is not a simple task!

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish to remain anonymous,pls bear with it.
I want to share an interesting incident that i witnessed in one of chennai's roads a few weeks back.Most people drive like they have the right of way and deem it to be cowardly,below their self esteem to allow others to pass first.
Generally the drivers of big vehicles like SUVs,buses and trucks force others off the road while the two wheelers think they are invincible.
I was driving a steady 20-30km/hr along a relatively free road.Because that road has a lot of unsignalled intersections where motorists cut and swerve it is unsafe to drive 35+.Ahead of me a big SUV was lumbering along and was causing no trouble to anybody.
All of a sudden a posh car (Honda City i think) came up fast behind me,flashing his lights and honking continuously to give way.Looking up the mirror i saw 2 young guys (in their early 20s probably).I moved over to the oncoming lane,slowed and gave way.
Immediately the car charged upto the SUV and started his routine.For a couple of seconds,the SUV was dring on as usual.Suddenly the SUV braked to a halt forcing the car to stop behind.
I also stopped behind them,apprehensively.
Suddenly out of the SUV came two HUGE men.Heck,
each of those guys were half the size of the car!!
While one guy stood in front of the car's bonnet,the other went to the driver's window and grabbed the driver's shirt collar with his huge hand.
Those guys were wearing XXXXL shirts and you could plainly see their strength even thru the
full,big shirts.
The guy shook the driver and spoke something to him.People on the street were watching in awe at those guys and I was worried that one of those guys would mistake me for the troublemaker and break my car in half!!Noone moved an inch and people on a passing bus stared at those two beasts!!
Fortunately for the upstart driver,the big guy let him off after a couple of shakes.I saw the him plead with folded hands!He mush have shat in his seat!The SUV then went off and I moved..last i saw of those two where in the rear view mirror -their car still stationary and both of them shivering after their "ordeal"!!

First time i saw muscle power put to good use!

6:18 AM  
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2:40 PM  

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