“We just follow orders. There is nothing in our hands,” says the head constable deputed at Jantar Mantar, when asked about the clashes between police and anti-rape protesters last Sunday.
A week later, as he watches crowds pouring at the protest venue, one can feel the emotion creep into his voice, “They (the accused) did a very wrong thing with that girl. I hope her death will bring changes in rape law,” he says.
Policemen like this head constable, who will be stationed at Jantar Mantar until next morning, have become punching bags for protesters and citizens alike. They face the flak, abuses and stones on Ground Zero while the political class chooses to monitor the protests — like the ones witnessed in Delhi after Munirka gangrape — from swanky buildings in Lutyen’s Delhi.
“Look at that woman with a child. Her husband is also here. You think they will a create ruckus here?” he asks as his fellow police personnel frisk those entering the protest venue. “This is not a paid crowd. These are all agitated people who have come here. Ye akroshi log hai,” he adds.
The policeman who speaks in a Haryanvi dialect is happy about these protests. “Even I am a common man. And trust me, this crowd is our only hope if we want a safer society for our children.”
But on second thoughts, after a smoke, he sounds a bit pessimistic and concerned. The ground realities have dawned upon him. “The biggest challenge on making a stricter rape law will become from politicians,” he says.
One understands politicians opposing the anti-graft law as many of them will land up behind bars. But why will they oppose something as basic as a stringent rape law? In fact, it will only help them woo the voters.
“What about netas who face rape charges?” the policeman counters. “And don’t you know the kind of pressure they face when son of a powerful businessman is involved in such cases? These businessmen will withdraw their support from the government the day this law is passed.”
And in case, a stricter rape law is passed in future, he says it will become another source of corruption.
“There is bound to be a misuse. I am not talking about genuine rape victims, but there will be girls who would just want to misuse the law. They will blackmail the guys,” he says. “And when police will talk about it, we will become the target once again. People will say we are speaking for the rapist.”
After 15 years in the force, the policeman who claims that he is content with his salary and does not beg (his terminology for taking bribe), did not allow his only son to join police force. “He wanted to become a sub inspector. He cried a lot when I opposed his decision. But you know… we are made to do a lot of dirty things. I don’t want this life for him.”