When I was robbed of my car, and sense of security
It was a hell of an experience in the literal sense. Grappling with news stories pouring in a more-than-busy day and while putting the newspaper to bed at 1.15 am, I had no inkling of the bigger battle that lay ahead of me on my way back home that night.
Before leaving office I and my colleagues trooped out for the customary smoke at the gate before driving off at 1.30am. My house is nearby, barely 2.5km away. I took the Airport Road towards Kharar.
At about 1.40am, closer home after taking the link road from the highway, I saw a vehicle coming at me, full beams on, and slowed down to let it pass. Within seconds it was in front of my car, the beams obscuring my vision, forcing me to brake hard. I could see two shadows disembarking from the vehicle and coming towards me. Thinking they needed help, I forgot the usual precautions while driving at night and opened the door.
Barely had I uttered “Haan bhai sahib,” they forced the door open, dragging me out and on to the ground. Unable to react, my initial horrified reaction, “Kya ho gaya bhai saab?” was lost in the din of Punjabi expletives, slaps and punches. I resisted first, before it dawned on me that they could be armed. Surrendering quietly I just stood there, my mind numb.
Then, remembering that I had a mobile phone I reached into my pockets my mind registering one thing: That I had to call the police. The men did not like it and roughed me up again, snatching the instrument from my grasp.
I could only stand there watching my car being escorted by their vehicle and it felt like bidding a final goodbye to the beloved. With no one around I walked home, knocking frantically at the gates of the society to wake up the guard. Once inside, I ran up to the third floor and pressed the bell. My wife, who opened the door, instantly knew something was wrong and had to sit down when I broke the news to her. After reassuring herself that I was none the worse after my ordeal, she gave me her phone and I dialled ‘100’ and narrated my tale of woes.
Then it was time to call my reporter colleagues. One by one I dialled the numbers. Soon, the police swung into action. Dozens of vehicles reached the crime spot by 2.15am with a deputy superintendent of police overseeing investigations. Some colleagues turned up and we went to Kharar Sadar police station to lodge an FIR.
It was well past 4am. Back home, I slumped on to the sofa, a question playing on my mind — was it just a random carjacking?
I am still looking for answers.