The Delhi police slogan, ‘With you, for you, always’, is catchy and sounds reassuring. A few nights ago, two friends found out how seriously the capital’s police force believes in that motto. They also got an unwanted lesson on preventive policing.
The two had dropped by at another friend’s house in East Delhi for, well, coffee and an evening of intellectual exchange. It was 12.30 a.m. when they decided to call it a night. The evening had been pleasant and both were looking at a quick drive home. Their cars were parked near the apartment gate, on the main road.
The drive, as it turned out, wasn’t that quick after all. The front left tyre of each car had been deflated.
The security guard at the gate was dozing and mumbled something about a late night police patrol. The policeman had inquired about the car owners and then promptly deflated the tyres. This, despite being told that the driver of at least one of the cars had headed inside the apartment.
A few inspector-level police officers were woken up and asked what, why and who. An emphasis more on ‘why the hell!’ About 15 minutes later, the man in question arrived on his Enfield.
The policeman was not in uniform and from the tilak on his forehead, it seemed that he had made a vow to his deity that he wouldn’t sleep until he took the delinquents who had parked their cars outside apartment gates to task. (Twenty other cars in the area had met the same fate that night.)
“It was for your own good,” said the policeman passionately. Many cars were being stolen in the area and the best way to prevent car thefts was to ensure that they could not be moved an inch. Deflating is a much easier way to prevent thefts than tracking down a stolen car. Preventive policing can’t get better.
And if you and your poor car happen to get caught in the collateral damage, well, one could apologise, even offer to help you to inflate the tyres.