“May I help you?” I’m sure that this sentence will create an image of police station in your mind as our police stations outside walls have a board asking you this question. But, real question is do they really mean this? Unfortunately, they do not. I’m sure who so ever needed such help in past will join me in my view. Recently I had an experience which itself endorsed my view.
I was passing by Thaltej Crossroads with my family. We were going back to our home in Honda City, completing our long drive on Saturday evening. I was driving at the speed of 20km/hr. As I passed by a small truck; which was standing perpendicular to my car on the side of road, suddenly jumped start and bang my tail light. ‘Dhum’, my tail light gone and bumper broken. Moreover, rear side dented badly. I came out of my car while still trying to figure out how that standstill truck jumped on my Honda’s tail. To me it seemed a deliberate act on truck driver’s part. I compelled truck driver to come down the truck while he was carelessly looking into his rear mirror. It was his way to ignore me and incident as well. We started exchanging words on his reckless start. Soon I realized that it was futile to argue with the driver who was found to be drunk. I turned to a traffic cops standing there and enjoying our arguments.
“Sir, you have witnessed this accident and this truck driver seems drunk. Please help me to sort out this” I asked to one of the cops, keeping ‘may I help’ motto in my mind.
“Take your vehicle on side of the road” he told me without looking at me. I followed his words with a hope that he will then help me to sort out my problem. To my surprise, this ‘may I help you’ guy get himself detached from the issue and started gossiping with his fellow cops. He never bothered to look at us.
“Sir, please tell me what I should do?” I again went to him despite of his humiliating response.
“How do I know? Both of you have to resolve in your own way.” He showed his disinterest.
“But you have witnessed the event”
“So what?!” he interrupted me in between and started chatting with his other ‘may I help you’ guys.
Realizing his indifference, I turned back to truck driver who was carelessly busy putting Gutkha pouch in his mouth. He gave me his mobile and asked me to talk.
“Bolo (Tell me)” I heard annoyed voice “I’m his Sheth”. I explained everything that has happened.
“Sir, from your talk you seem to be a civilized person. Pardon him and finish the matter” he almost ordered me while trying to be sober. I told him my intention to lodge police complain.
“My father is police inspector” probably he was trying to threat me or to convey me that nothing will be done on that end.
“Who so ever you are, I have to lodge a complaint to recover my expenses. Moreover, this chap is drunk and driving!” I told him firmly.
Those ‘May I help you guys’ in traffic police dress were seeing whole drama pretending they were busy in their own talk. By that time one guy came on bike and started negotiating with me. “I’m send by the Sheth who talked to you. Tell me now what you want to do?”
“I want to lodge police complain” I said in straight point.
He laughed “come on you look decent person, aren’t you aware what will be done there?”
I kept quiet. “See even these people are not bothered for you, they are on our ‘Hafta’ and this is a routine affair for us” he pointed his eyes towards traffic police who were all set to go home.
“Sir, he is right. Is ke saath hi nipta lo verna jo mil raha hai who bhi jayega” (settle with him or you won’t get anything) pedestrian who was watching this drama advised me in a good faith.
Still I was firm on my decision but I saw traffic guys disappearing on their bikes, frustrated by this I agreed to negotiate with that man.
Of course whole incidence was not new to someone staying in India since his birth, but I felt very bad when my teenage son told me “Dad, you wasted your time seeking help from those traffic guys. You should be knowing that they are not concerned to help traffic or drivers. They are there to collect money to finish their target and fill their personal pocket.” I felt bad because we talk to improve our country’s reputation and increase patriotism in our upcoming generation, and what they learn from daily incidences like this is totally disappointing. Such attitude of public servants should be severely punished not because they did not help needy civilians but for spoiling the reputation of department they work and thereby the nation itself. My mind was on fire and I decided to distract it by switching my TV on.
TV reporter was taking an interview of person affected by heavy rain. “We are stuck in this heavy rain, our houses drowned and we are hungry since 48 hours” flood affected civilian narrating his misfortune.
“Nobody came for help?! Not councilor of your area or government officials?!!” reporter asked. And my mind started new stream of thought- why public servants disappear when they are required, the most by public. I switched off the TV….