We are standing on the brink of the 60th anniversary of Indian democracy but I am not feeling particularly patriotic. This is because I have realised that beneath the veneer of democracy, I have seen glimpses of a totalitarian regime.
It all began one night three years ago while I was travelling from Ajmer to Delhi. As the bus reached the Jaipur bus station, I was half sleepy in those stiff chairs. Suddenly, four policemen woke me up and dragged me out of the bus because they suspected me of some wrongdoing. When I was back in the bus, I found my arms and hands scratched and bleeding, my shirt torn, and the most sheepish faces I have ever seen.
A near-similar encounter happened again a few nights ago. I was with some friends and we were casually chatting after having dinner at a nearby joint. The doorbell rang and in walked a policeman asking us what we were doing. We thought that he wanted money but the policeman refused to leave the room till we verified ourselves.
Then he walked out but waited for our friends to leave so he and his colleague could pounce on us again. This time, he wanted me to go to the police station with him, for a reason he wouldn’t tell me. He was drunk, and I was forced to flash my Press card.
I’m not rowdy or over-smart, but these incidents upset me. The city’s streets aren’t safe at night, even for men, let alone women. The later it is, the easier it is for a policeman to get money out of me.
Those who can drop names are often let off easily. If I am not up to any trouble, what is the reason for cops to be abusive and misbehave with me at night? It’s a pity to lose faith in those who guard the common man. And democracy? We’ll just raise the flag on August 15....