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How many movies have you seen, where a common man (read a good citizen), going to lodge a complaint in the police station, getting assaulted, harassed, and ill-treated by the police for no fault of his own? Many, ah?!
Now, I am going to tell you one such true incident, not has a witness but as a victim. Yes! This is an account of a true incident happened (happening) in my life.
I am living with my elder brother, Ramesh in Saravanam Mansion at Choolaimedu in Chennai for over a year. Some eight months back the water provided to us began to emanate foul odour. We, along with many inmates, complained to the Mansion owner many times about the water problem, but he showed lukewarm interest and never did anything about it.
So, we took the sample water to the TamilNadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) for testing. The result only proved that the water was fecally contaminated (36 units in 100ml). We took a photo copy of the certificate and showed it to the owner, who laughed at it and said, "Okay, I'll do something for your satisfaction." But he never did anything to improve the water quality.
A few of our mansion inmates identified that the cause of the problem was a single motor pump, which sucked sewage water. Because when this particular pump was not used, we absolutely had no problem with the water. So, along with many people, we requested the owner to stop using the pump. Though he agreed to this request, he was more worried about the lifetime of the pump, and continued to use it on alternate days, mostly without our knowledge.
This became a major problem for us. Our health was affected. A few people vacated the mansion. Many became used to it. My brother and I, and a few others, stopped using the pipe water and started using the hand pump for bathing and other purposes. But we simply couldn't digest that we pay only bath in fecally contaminated water.
Because of our personal and work commitments, we were not able to search for a new place. Moreover, we felt that this was not our personal problem but a problem affecting more than hundred youngsters. So my brother got the signatures of the inmates and sent a registered post to the owner, but he refused to get the post.It came back to us. He was completely heedless to all our requests and pleas.
So, left with no other option, we decided to take the matter to Consumer Protection Cell(CPC) in Chennai. My brother filed the complaint. Mr. Rajaraman I.A.S of CPC sent an acknowledgment letter stating that they had forwarded the issue to the Metro Water Department, Electricity Board (we also had problems of electricity fluctuation), and Corporation of Chennai to investigate the issue. A copy was also sent to the owner through the post, which was again sent back.
After that, the owner began to threaten us and asked us to vacate the mansion. He refused to take rent from us for the past three months, and asked us to vacate.
But, last Friday, my brother found that the Internet was suddenly not connecting. When he checked out, he discovered that the telephone wire that goes out through the window was cut off from outside, when he had not been in the room. He called and informed me from the land line nearby and went back to the room. I was in my office. It made me worry since my brother was alone there.
As I worried, something happened. The mansion owner, his son, watchman and a stout guy (unknown to us) had come to the room and threatened my brother that his very life will be in danger if he goes to the consumer court. They asked my brother to vacate the mansion and tried to assault him physically. Freeing himself from their clutches, my brother escaped and ran all the way to the police station for safety. He didn't even lock the room's door and wear slippers.
After reaching the police station in Choolaimedu, he had explained everything to the police constables. In the meantime, the foursome had locked the room and followed my brother to the police station. As soon as they entered, they ordered tea for all the policemen, and began to badmouth about my brother and said that he had not payed the rent for three months and not vacating the mansion.
Immediately, the police constables had said that only if you pay the rent, we can proceed with your complaint. So my brother called me from a constable's mobile, and asked me to come to the station. Panicked, I rushed there. It was around 12.30 PM. Then, I got the key from the police and hurried to the room. Took the money, we had kept in the room, and went to the ATM nearby, and drew all the balance amount.
Then, I reached the police station with the money. I gave the amount to the police, who then handed it over to the mansion owner. After that my brother asked to take a complaint against the mansion owner for threatening him and cutting off the telephone wire. The constable asked to write the complaint. My brother wrote a detailed complaint and gave it to them. Meantime, I called and informed my office that I had an unexpected problem and will be coming back in an hour.
When my brother asked for the receipt for acknowledgment, the writer asked us to meet the Inspector, who was standing in front of the police station. So we both went to him with the complaint and started to explain our problem. But, the inspector never listened to what we said and asked us to vacate the mansion. He scolded my brother for looking at his name badge, and shouted, "What are you a big shot? Go complain where ever you like? I am afraid of nobody?" When I asked him, "Sir, what's wrong in simply looking at the badge?" he hit me on my face, and tried to beat me more. My brother who came to my rescue was also beaten by him.
Then, the police manhandled us and started to treat us roughly. Though we kept requesting him to read the complaint at least once and then proceed further, the inspector never listened. We were surrounded by many policemen. They kept on insisting that we should vacate the mansion. All our explanations were fruitless. Our mobile phone was confiscated by them. We were not allowed to make any calls after that. I was not even able to inform my office. We were asked to sit inside the station, and was told that the Inspector will be back by 4 PM. The mansion owner and their gang were allowed to go home.
Till evening 7PM, we were simply sitting inside the station. Again the Sub Inspector called and started to persuade us to vacate the mansion. Sometimes he pleaded us. Sometimes he threatened us. Sometimes he spoke friendly. Sometimes he cajoled us. But he was persistent that we should give it in writing that we will vacate the mansion, and will not go to the court. When my brother insisted to register the complaint and give us a receipt, he took him by his collar and pushed him away.
All our explanations and requests were in vain. Disheartened, we had to write and give what he told us. Only, when I was writing, he came to know that I had just come to give the money to my brother. Then, we came back to the room.
My brother and I were assaulted, harassed, and ill-treated by the police for no fault of us. My brother is a engineering graduate, a short film/documentary director, and an aspiring film director. He is working hard to realize his dreams. I am working in a reputed organization in Chennai. Moreover, many bloggers who visit both our blogs, would have known that we both are socially conscious persons.
I am saying this because when educated people, like us, are treated like third rated fellows, imagine the situation of illiterates? Firstly, do the police have the right to assault a person, that too, who has come to his aid? Are the police there to serve only the wealthy and powerful? Should we drop in names of VIPS and big shots to lodge a complaint? Can't a common man approach the police even when his very life is at threat? Don't we have the rights to approach the consumer court? Should we keep vacating mansions, if we don't get proper services? What are courts and police stations for?
Many questions kept boiling in us that night.
"To run away from danger, instead of facing it, is to deny one's faith in man and God, even one's own self. It were better for one to drown oneself than live to declare such bankruptcy of faith."
More than ever, these immortal lines of Mahatma Gandhi came has aid. So, we decided to seek justice. We decided to fight against the injustice done to us.
My brother approached the City Chief commissioner Mr.K. Rajendran, on Wednesday, and has lodged the complaint. He had instructed the Assistant Commissioner of Police to personally inquire and take appropriate action. We have also registered a complaint in the State Human Rights Commission.
Mahatma also says "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
With faith, hope and trust, we are waiting for justice.
P.S. Dear friends, more than ever, we need your support, guidance and voice. I welcome your valuable guidance and suggestions. Do leave your precious comments, as always. You can also mail me: [email@example.com]