After Delhi Police raided Kerala House after a complaint about beef being served in its canteen, it has faced widespread criticism from all around, including from the Chief Minister of Kerala who even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister demanding action against the cops. Meanwhile, Delhi police commissioner B S Bassi defended the raid, saying, "We are an instrumentality of law and when we get a call, we have no choice but to respond. And in this case we acted as per the law and are entitled to act in this fashion..."
SO, does Delhi Police really respond to calls "as per the law?" To answer this question, let me first share a first-hand experience.
Cut to 24 October, 2015. It was 11pm on a Saturday but the night was far from quiet, courtesy high-decibel loudspeakers from somewhere in the neighbourhood booming out songs and intermittent speeches. The noise was disturbing a large area of Dwarka where I live. I have been fighting insomnia and cannot sleep if there's even a little disturbance. I had to be out on work for the whole of the next day and it was imperative for me to get some sleep.
"[W}hen the Delhi police commissioner said '... we have no choice but to respond... as per the law...', he probably forgot to mention who exactly the call should come from..."
Now, "as per the law", we all know that using high-decibel loudspeakers between 10pm and 6am is prohibited. So, I dialled 100 at around 11pm and lodged a complaint. Within minutes, I got a call back from a police official who said he was calling from PCR-146 and wanted to know the exact location of the loud speakers. I did not know the "exact location" of the source of noise but tried to give him a fair idea. It took 30 minutes after this call, but the loudspeakers stopped. I was glad. I assume that the police had intervened.
But, hold on, just 10 minutes later, the racket started again, at full volume. I thought the PCR van could not be too far and would go back to stop them. After waiting for about 20 minutes, I dialled 100. They promised to take action again. Nothing happened. Half an hour later, I called again. PCR-144 called me back this time, asking for the "exact location". I did the needful. This time the loudspeakers stopped 40 minutes later. I assumed, again, that the police had intervened. This time, though, the quiet lasted for only 10 minutes. As the loudspeakers blared, I waited for another half hour to see if PCR-144 would return and take action. No, nothing happened.
Yet again, I called PCR-144. The policeman who answered promised me the loudspeakers would be stopped in minutes. Nothing happened. It was well past 2am. I rang PCR-144 twice after that, but they disconnected my call both times. Then, I dialled 100; the man who picked the called pressed me to be brief when I tried to describe the whole ordeal I had been through for the past three hours. He was not ready to listen. I also asked him if it was not a matter of shame for the police when their orders are defied repeatedly and so brazenly. He asked me not to use words like "shame" and said in typical programmed manner "we have forwarded your complaint already." The loudspeakers went on in full blast, keeping me awake until 5am when they finally stopped.
Now, when the Delhi police commissioner said "when we get a call, we have no choice but to respond... as per the law...", he probably forgot to mention who exactly the call should come from and what exactly the issue at hand should be for the police to act in the manner he described.
"[I]n order to get the police to respond to your need 'as per the law', you need form some kind of a Sena first."
In the Kerala House incident, by Mr Bassi's own admission, as told to DNA, the police had received a call "from a person who had a history of taking the law into his own hands." So, in such a context, it is all the more baffling why the police did not deal with this so-called vigilante instead of heeding his dubious demands and going on to create a ruckus at Kerala House. Wasn't that unlawful?
If at all the police needed to find out whether beef was actually being served in the Kerala House canteen, does the law not prescribe a procedure or protocol for investigation? But, from the looks of it, what mattered the most to the police was who it was who had called: the Hindu Sena (roughly translated: the Hindu Battalion). That probably explains why one single call works so wonderfully at times and, at others, repeated calls have no effect at all.
So, the insight I got from my own experience and from the Kerala House incident is that in order to get the police to respond to your need "as per the law", you need form some kind of a Sena first. Since the loudspeakers at night are a perpetual menace in my locality, I have already started talking to neighbours to see if we can form an Anti-Loudspeakers Sena. I've also suggested to my friends across to Delhi to form as many Senas as possible, such as an Anti-Molestation Sena, Anti-Rape Sena, Anti-Traffic-Violation Sena, Anti-Road-Rage Sena', Anti-Honking Sena, Anti-Pollution Sena, Anti-Littering Sena, and so on!
At a time when political entities are failing to hold together the nation's sanity, I sincerely hope at least prestigious institutions like the police will set their priorities and briefs right in time and prevent people from losing faith in them too!
Unfortunately, the brutal lathi charge on students protesting in front of the University Grants Commission office against the scrapping of non-NET scholarships does not suggest that Delhi Police has any intention to uphold the dignity of its own institution.