Police – Your Friend!

I reproduce with permission an email from Mr. Gopal. (Formatting mine)

(A Commuter’s Experience)

I was travelling by auto from Mahadevpura to my office in Cessna Business Park, Kadubeesnahalli this afternoon. After haggling with him on the price, I agreed on paying him twenty rupees more than the fare on the meter. Note that this is a route I take twice every single day and I knew for sure that the distance wasn’t more than 6 kilometers. However, by the time I was within a kilometer from my destination, I noticed that the meter indicated a distance of over 11 kilometers. I immediately asked the guy to stop and asked him if his meter was accurate. I pulled out a bus ticket from the previous day and showed him that it showed 6 kilometers. He claimed that the bus treats one stop as one kilometer and that the destination was six stops away and therefore not necessarily six kilometers away. His argument didn’t seem to make any sense so I asked him to take me to the police.

This was when things started to get ugly. Really ugly. He immediately turned the auto away from the busy Outer Ring Road and took a left turn onto Panathur road and brought the auto to a halt at an auto stand with around 10 other autos. He then demanded me to pay him hundred Rupees. I flatly refused. I tried taking a picture of his meter but before I could do it, he went ahead and reset it. At this point he started abusing me and sought help from the other auto drivers at the stand.

I sensed that they were about to gang up on me and immediately dialed 100. This is where the surprising awesomeness of Bangalore police kicked in.

Operator: Hello. Police control room.
Me: Hi. I’m stuck in an auto stand and the auto-driver is overcharging me. There are around 10 other autos here and looks like they’re all ganging up on me.
Operator: Could you please tell us your exact location, Sir?
Me: I’m at the junction of Panathur Road and Outer Ring Road.
Operator: Okay sir. We’ll send someone there right away.

At this point, the whole lot of auto drivers gang up on me and force me to hang up. A couple of them threaten me and almost force me into paying. This is when I get a call from an unknown number. The person just asks me for my exact location and hangs up.

Just when the group starts to get slightly physical, a police van arrives. They notice what’s happening and a policeman walks up to me. He asks me if I had called and takes stock of the situation. Meanwhile, the gang largely abandons the auto-driver in question and the policeman starts asking him something in Kannada. Two minutes later, he notes the auto number and speaks to someone on his walkie-talkie. He then informs me that the traffic police is on its way to seize the auto and tells me that I can leave if I want to.

All this less than fifteen minutes from when I had first placed a call to the control room. What left me astonished was the speed with which the police came to my assistance. They called me back three minutes after my first call and managed to reach the scene in less than ten minutes. In a further five minutes, I was free to leave the scene. What was even more astonishing was the fact that the policeman called me again in ten minutes time to check if I was okay. What really impressed me was the fact that the lady from the control room called me up in fifteen minutes to follow up with regard to the status of the issue.

We often hear of the police misbehaving or not responding adequately. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how close 100 was to 911. I think such stories of timely police assistance deserve to be told. Our men in khaki aren’t as bad as we make them out to be. Mr Venkatesh, the policeman I interacted with, certainly wasn’t. I wasn’t in a life threatening situation. The police probably knew that as well. Yet they came to my assistance promptly. More than anything, they rid me of a skin of skepticism that I always wore with regard to how such services function in my country!!!!!

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