I grew up the daughter of a senior Govt official. I remember as a child, people’s eyes widening every time they asked me what my father did and I said “My father is a Commissioner of In com tax. I would quickly rush to add “My mom’s a professor of history, triple PHD” but no one was listening. In those days people never asked what your mother did.
Ribero Uncle (Then Commissioner of Mumbai Police) was dad’s batch mate & family friend and I remember him even helping out in a domestic matter. I.e. when my big sister went missing & Ribero uncle got her back home in less than 72 hours. She hadn’t been abducted but had run away from home of her own accord. Ribero Uncle had at that point of time in fact even tried to convince Sujata (my run away sis) to do her IPS & join the police force, teasing her kindly “Such a brave girl to run away from your family like this and be on your own- the Police force needs women like you” That’s what happens in homes where one has access to officers of high rank- matters get sorted. I remember as a kid telling “So and so uncle” that my sister is arriving from Muscat & I wanted to surprise her at the airport. In those days of long distance, ISD calls, shouting Hello Halloo Helllooooo” into the phone, when IT and customs were the most dreaded words, I would wait for my sister to arrive at baggage arrival at the airport, be escorted right inside by some junior customs officers who my neighbour and Comissioner of Customs Uncle had instructed & squeal in delight at the sight of her with her huge enormous suitcases full of goodies for us. Chocolates & clothes & walkmans – remember those? We walked past others who stood in loooong customs queues & pleaded helplessly over opened suitcases with customs officers to let them go. To me all this was a given, just the way we lived. I didn’t know who Sam Maneck Shaw was when he attended my big sisters wedding- I just remember many guests trying to take photographs with him. Even years after dad retired I would speak to a Talwar Uncle” or Mr Tandon for an In com tax matter or other kinds of professional or personal assistance. This is what happens in families.
Which is why I am so baffled with the Sheena Murder case- if a son has a passport and a daughter/ sister/ family member goes missing isn’t it a given that the parents will take action? It would have been a matter of a phone call for Peter Mukherjea. He is a well connected and powerful man.
Like Ribero uncle got my sister home in under 72 hours when she went missing. In those days in the eighties there were no mobiles. No gps tracking, no google maps & yet it took less than 72 hours. In todays time it should have taken an hour.
So why wasn’t Rahul even allowed to register an FIR about his missing fiance? If Sheena had indeed travelled on a second passport like he claims he was told, obtaining that information from the passport office or police verification records would have again been a matter of a phone call for the Mukherjea’s. Apparently after two attempts Rahul gave up? Why?
Ever tried lodging an FIR in a Mumbai Police Station as an ordinary person? It is a harrowing experience even for the most determined.
Most of us are lucky that except for passport verification we don’t have to ever enter a police station. That’s the only time I had ever been to a police station in my life. For a passport verification.
Until a few years ago when I was advised and decided to lodge a criminal complaint against a multinational bank for financial fraud against me. This is after over a year of my many legal notices being blatantly ignored by the bank, & I was running out of lawyers fees etc. This in spite of the fact that my best friends being lawyers and I was availing of their help at almost a 10th of the cost I would have had to pay otherwise etc.
The police station drill was harrowing and humiliating “ Sahib bahar gela hai. Nantar ya” “ Come tomorrow- there is no lady officer present today” ‘” Leave your number I will call you” The waiting game was nerve wracking. The police officer who did finally call me had the most frightening voice ever. Meetings were scheduled and changed- I was getting more and more intimidated and afraid.
That is when in spite of my earlier resolve to do this entirely on my own I called up my ex husband and asked for help. He said to me in the same comforting way that I was used to my father telling me “Relax. I’ll handle it. I’ll call you back” Within a few minutes he had spoken to a friend who is a senior police officer and within a few minutes I got a call from the same police station saying” Madam Please come and meet so and so officer. We will take your complaint today itself”
I cried in relief. I didn’t have to deal with that aggression and intimidation any more and very happy to admit I wasn’t able to.
And so, in spite of my many feminist rants I am happy to live in a man’s world. But only because I am lucky and blessed to know and have some very good men in my life. I wish every woman and child, son and daughter in the world the same.
Because what happens when people who are meant to protect you are the ones that harm you? What happens when the system fails you? One has heard of horrible cases of intimidation in police stations, its why most rape cases are never registered.
I know a lady who was trying to register an offense against the son of a local politician . Now this lady is a tough one herself and not one to be intimidated- but within minutes of her arrival at the police station there was a call from the office of the politician and the cops refused to even listen to her complaint , let alone register an FIR. Soon after this dismissal at the police station, rumours of her affairs and deep cleavage, short dress, wine glass in hand pictures did the rounds on whats app & gossip mills. No one questioned the politician or his son- she has had a tough time reclaiming her reputation
Some things in our society are a given. And that is too sad indeed. Because life’s a bitch when men are dogs.