What has "Kariya, I love you" got to do with a Bangalore police station? More than you think
news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | November 9, 2014 | 10.41 am IST The lower rungs of the Indian police are an overworked, and often under-paid lot, and many of them (higher officers included) have been accused of abusing the power that comes with the uniform, taking bribes from people unable to stand up to them, falsely implicating people in crimes they did not commit, torture, indifference, complicity in crimes and a lot more. But like any other group of people, they have their own stories to tell and not all of them are corrupt, morally or otherwise. A visit to a police station in Bangalore showed a glimpse into their working conditions. This particular station did not have a lock-up, some do. Thick iron bars and all. The station has the look of a typical government office in a crowded city where land is scarce. The station is located on the first floor of a building. A landmark to find the station included a huge aalada mara (tree) next to it. The actual station is just a long room, its walls lined with tables, a set of metal shelves and metal cupboards. In the night, they all take on the harsh look of a dream, the visuals glazed white. Nestled among the files on the bottom shelf of this set of shelves is a dog. Looking up from his paper work and noticing this reporter look at the dog, an official said that his name was Ramu, then added: "There is another one. Black. Karia I love you." For those unfamiliar with the last sentence, "Karia, I love You" is the name of a Kannada song from the hit film Duniya. Listen to it here: Now that the film story is over, let's get back to reality. For police officers, hierarchy and senior officers are everything. They need to be able to contact each other at all times. One way, is lists like this. And another is a walkie-talkie. A hat left rests atop a thick file, lying forgotten long after the day shift personnel have gone home. Rifles in a stand, sandwiched between two metal filing cabinets There has been much debate about whether the gods are allowed to reside in government offices and police stations, but until the matter is settled, they will continue to be there. And some more gods. The door to this large, rectangular room too has a naama, only just visible against the cream-coloured paint in the night. There is a mirror by the door, and it too has a red dot, bang in the centre. This is a make-shift room, behind the ground storey, constructed of cement, tin sheets held up by metal poles. A narrow path leads to the entrance, where you are greeted by empty cans of water. It seems to be a rest-room of sorts, but it isn't clear if there are toilets. The station officer's chamber, is another make-shift room, constructed out of tin sheets. The room is furnished with a table and some chairs and the odd bench thrown in. The Station House Officer (SHO) is the one who will register an FIR if you ever have one. Behind this is the tree which is used as a landmark when giving directions to the location of the police station. This sign board provides the numbers of the Special Juvenile Police Unit and Child Welfare Officer, a Woman Police Officer, and a social worker. A sign board this reporter saw at another police station in Bangalore describes the rights of the accused, and the procedure to be followed by the police when a person has been arrested. Shackles are not to be used on a prisoner - under-trial or convict - except with the prior permission of the court. These guidelines came into effect following a Supreme Court ruling in 1996. There have been at least two high profile cases in Karnataka in which shackles were used on under-trials. One was the case of then post-graduate student at Mangalore University, Vittala Malekudiya, who had been imprisoned on charges of being a Maoist. He was escorted to the examination hall in April 2012 at the university in chains. In November 2012, television journalist Naveen Soorinje who had been arrested in the homestay attack case, was produced in court along with 28 other arrested in the case. All of them had been handcuffed. This had happened even though the media reported extensively on the handcuffing of prisoners just a few months ago.