Philosophical question; if a tree fell in a forest and nobody was around to see it, how long before the Mumbai Police raided it for no reason? Last weekend, the fuzz raided a club named LIV. All clubs these days have chic minimalist names that mean nothing but sound cool, like ‘LIV’ and ‘Ra’ and ‘Jai Sridevi Family Restaurant and Quarter Bar (A/C)’
The police raided it for being open past the city’s 1:30 am deadline, and corralled all 200 people in the place off to the police station. Now while I love surprise afterparties as much as the next guy, this seemed a bit excessive, even by Mumbai Police standards. More entertaining still is the fact that in the end, people just pushed the gates open and went home, making for the world’s least violent (but most badly overdressed) prison-break.
And now, the police have another idea. They think we should have CCTV in every single pub in the city, and that they should have the right to examine the footage every week, because if they can keep an eye on us all the time, it spares us the evil eye of a raid in the future. This is a bit like telling your doctor to give you jaundice today to prevent you from getting a cold six weeks from now. Some people think this is an invasion of privacy, but I think this a wonderful idea. After the 165th consecutive viewings of Hotel California by Swapnil and The “I Love You Bro” Quartet, the cops would be the first guys to demand a drink or nine. Besides, if you really want to put CCTV cameras in places where dangerous drunken misbehaviour occurs, you really should start with police vans.
The question is; what’s the point? Historically we’re taught that when an entity repeats the exact same activity against you, over and over again, until it becomes annoying, the entity is probably either
a) Trying to communicate or
b) Ajy Devgn
If this constant bullying is some form of communication, what exactly is the Mumbai Police’s message? And are they delivering it in English, because otherwise those poor townies aren’t going to understand a word. The 1:30 am deadline has always existed in the civilian-police grey-area, that no-man’s-land of give and take that recognises that the letter of the law may be a bit more strict than necessary. Even in a discipline-loving world, every child’s allowed to stay up for the late-night movie once in a while. But police action these days seems dictated to show-off this weird moral idea that they are right, you, as a civilian are wrong. Isn’t it weird that the people who form our legally mandated defensive frontline just don’t get along with us?
You could argue they were within the letter of the law, but then how do you explain that a few days before that, the Pune police beat event organisers at an Enrique Iglesias concert just because a high-ranking officer wasn’t allowed to bring guests in for free? I have serious issues trusting anybody who’d start a fight over Bailamos.
If you’re pro-police, one argument is that only some cops behave badly with civilians, and that most are actually great guys. While that might be true, the cops then have to extend that argument to partygoers and drinkers as well. For every one that sticks a bottle in somebody’s eye in a drunken brawl, there’s 400 others, who, even at their worst, are roughly as threatening as Munaf Patel.
Another argument is that we live in some sort of moral decline, and this needs to be arrested by completely overreacting to the situation. This is worrying because it means police action is being dictated by a sense of what a man in a chair somewhere deems morally prudent for me, as opposed to the letter or spirit of the law. But I do agree with a part of that argument. We do live in a time of great moral decline. But the funny thing is, it isn’t coming from the young. A Raja is 49 years old. Suresh Kalmadi’s 68, and Narendra Modi is 62 in human years, and Goblet of Fire in Horcrux years. Perhaps we could start there instead?
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi