Looking for his lost brother for more than three years, Murari Lal got a surprise on Monday at a Noida police station: the officer offered him a glass of water.
Many Noida residents say that they were frequently turned away by officers at police stations when they went to register missing complaints about their kin.
Officers have been accused of being rude to the parents, mostly from poor families, and one police statement about a missing girl said she had eloped with her lover. She was since been confirmed as dead.
But that attitude is changing since the Nithari serial killings case caused a national outrage.
"I was amazed when I went to the police station a few days ago. I was offered a seat as if I was a VIP. A glass of water was also offered to me," Lal said.
"They searched the records and told us the status of my missing person application. Although my brother Girnari is still untraced, the behaviour of the police has moved me a lot and I felt half-relieved."
At the heart of the case is the failure of the police to register complaints and launch investigation. Lal said he had a bad experience whenever he went to the Sector 20 police station.
"Earlier whenever I came to inquire about by missing brother, who went missing in May 2003 from Nithari, I was asked to go out and search for him at my relatives' house. They didn't even look face to face at me," Lal said.
"The munshi (clerk) used to tell me to go away, and once another policeman pushed me out of the room, saying 'don't waste our time, we were busy in more serious matters'," he said. The station head has since been expelled and could not be reached for comment. Rohtak resident Ranvir Singh has lodged a complaint at several places, including Gurgaon and Noida, since his two-year-old son Deepak went missing two years back.
"He had gone missing from Gurgaon's Patel Nagar area. Gurgaon Police did not lodge our complaint and sent us back, asking us to look for him on our own," he said.
"Noida Policemen at the camp were very courteous to us. They even wrote my complaint," Singh said.
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