The recent molestation of a teenager in Mumbai by the self-claimed proponents of moral ethics shook me badly. Like others, I also admired the fact that women were safe in the dream city, whatever the time of the day or night it may be. Still shocking was the fact that the culprits were members of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Eu Tu! I privately thought.
While in Mumbai I had heard their roar against bhaiyas for messing up Mumbai’s law and order. But the Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena could never scare the north Indian in me? But it did hurt my pride when my Mumbaikar friends used to contemptuously ask me, “Can you travel in the night in the bhaiyaland?” My cryptic reply often was, “ Why not?” Sometimes I taunted them, ” Safety in Mumbai comes more from the crowds on the streets, and not the culture you people glorify.”
Sometimes I would share with them what’s written below to make them shut up.
It was a massacre by dacoits right in the heart of the ravines. There were no roads, kucha or pucca as the village was located on the riverbank. And I had to cover it. I reached Auraiya in a rickety ambassador car (it was early 1990’s) early morning and drove straight to the residence of the Senior Superintendent of Police. His ruffled looks told me he had not slept. He looked at me as if the worst had come.
“What! You want to go to the village?” he yelled. “We have enough problems, please don’t add to them.” Realising I was not the one to budge so easily, he said, “Do you have any idea how dangerous the ravines are? Look there is no road. We were told last night that some minister might come. So we are trying to make one through the jungle, houses ——.” His words did not convince me to return to Lucknow without doing the Page one story.
“Ok, if you have to go, then take our jeep instead of your car. I can’t have you spending your night amidst wild animals and dacoits.” So my 18-km-long journey started with four armed cops accompanying me. Soon I started feeling the pain of an awful ride — there were bruises on my arms that started bleeding, the jeep was throwing me out, sometimes sharply tripping over to the side that I could touch the ground. This was when I heard some harsh words from the back, “ Can you hold our rifles? When we can’t help ourselves, how are we going to protect you? You never know the dacoits may be hiding somewhere in the jungle!”
That was enough to make me cry. I held back my tears while assuring the cop, “Nothing of that sort would happen.” That cooled his tempers as he asked, “Don’t you have men in your office that they have sent a girl to such a dangerous place.”
I have not looked back since then. That one trip emboldened me to travel extensively through out the state, during the day, during the night. And has not given up till date. Jai Ho Bhaiyaland !
As the world saw 500 helpless cops fight a lone and lean dacoit for full 50 hours in a village in Chitrakoot (does the name ring a bell. It’s mentioned in Ramayana), my friend Col Fasih Ahmed proudly shared his father’s exemplary feat– a close encounter with a dreaded brigand. A 35-km chase on a horseback, two shots fired and the dacoit was lying at his feet, dead. Read more