While every true-blue Mumbaikar already has it in his DNA, every migrant soon realises that there are three magic words that have a very good chance of getting you out of sticky situations with the traffic cops — jau dya saheb (please let me go/ let this one pass).
Those three words, preferably delivered in the right accent, can see you get off with a short lecture and a warning; or the offer to pay a bribe and avoid shelling out the actual, bigger fine.
In the era of Anna Hazare, however, cops are becoming more careful in the way they indicate that they may be open for a ‘settlement’, as the Anti-Corruption Bureau found out following the arrests of 181 policemen in six months for bribe taking.
It turns out that, cops across all levels are beginning to use more than the obvious references to bribes —chai-paani, baksheesh — and come up with more innovative phrases and techniques.
To ensure that you, dear reader, do not miss out on such cues should you want to report the cop or, ahem… here’s a list of all such ways found out by the ACB. Stay vigilant.
Text: Vinay Dalvi
Illustrations: Amit Bandre
Unleash your inner waiter
Chaha Panyacha Bagha
While the Hindi phrase is largely redundant now, the Marathi version continues to be the most popular among the city’s cops. Every Indian, not just every Mumbaikar, now knows enough not to give the policeman tea or water, unless it is accompanied by some hard cash.
Technology permeates everything, and even bribe taking is not immune to it. Some policemen type out the amount they seek on their mobile phones and then quickly erase it before it can be used as evidence. The number is held up before the accused for sometime — if he gets the message, great, or else the file is left hanging.
Bakshish Dyava Lagel
One of the oldest tricks in the book, but clearly among the most used and most successful, this phrase gets the message across in a very clear manner. Asking for a reward, as opposed to asking for money directly, helps maintain the ‘purity’ of tasks such as delaying chargesheets, ignoring evidence and the like.
It's a date!
Kuthe Baher Bhetu Ya
While the phrase means let’s meet outside, the policeman is actually asking you to step out of the police station, or any area, where he can’t be seen accepting or discussing bribes. Should it lead to a free meal at a good restaurant, however, that’s a welcome bonus.
Ball's in your court
Kay Karaycha Ahe Bola
This is the most common phrase used by the traffic police while demanding money. They won’t tell you what they want, but include you in the decision-making. They will tell you the fine is, say, R400, and just before writing the challan, use the phrase, which means ‘tell me what you want to do’. Smart vehicle owners get the hint, pay a smaller sum, which is pocketed by the cop and the government coffers remain empty. Win-win?
Orderly La Bheta
Officers higher up in the pecking order — police inspectors and up — will ask you to meet their orderly. This means that since they can’t be seen receiving cash or gifts, you have to route these things via a constable. This constable will probably be more open about his intentions and tell you how hard his senior has to work to make things happen for people like you.
Aamchyakade Laksha Asu Dya
Be attentive towards me, the cop may tell you. For a person trying to settle the case, that means pay up now. Or, even after the case is settled, remember the cop, how he helped you, and prepare to fork out more favours. For prisoners, however, if attention is given, it is returned. They can expect to get home food, cigarettes and good treatment.
Vajan Thevaila Lagel
Vajan Thevaila Lagel (put some weight here) is used by policemen when someone approaches them to aid in settling the case. When this phrase is used, the cop is expecting you to either put wads of cash in his hand right away, or at least promise to let him feel their weight pretty soon.
In some cases, while talking to the accused or the party at fault, the inspector will raise a few fingers. Watch out for the number keenly because that indicates the amount, in thousands or even lakhs, that he is asking for.
When the person against whom action has to be taken approaches a cop and the policeman realises that he wants the matter settled, the phrase kharcha hoga (You will have to spend), or kharcha karoge kya (will you spend?), is casually dropped into the conversation. This gives the cop the opportunity to see whether the person is willing to fill his pockets, without incriminating himself.