It Happened in Bangalore!

After Mangalore, it happened in Bangalore on 6th February, 2009.

Edited to add: Other than this, 4 more incidents of attacks on women have been reported in Bangalore. Read another victim, Archana’sΒ  account here. More reports pouring in Hindu. See comment section and PCC blog for more links and updates.

Different people, different intentions. But base point remains same. Lack of law and order. Unfair treatment met out to different citizens based on status, gender and connections. It scared me. I am not ashamed to say that. But it also enraged me. It made me more determined not to cow down. I hope, after reading this story, we can find more ways to engage in something more powerful than usual chest-thumping that we do online.   😦 Your take?

A Nude peace protest against Bush's policies in New Orleans. Undignified?

A Nude peace protest against Bush's War policies in New Orleans. Undignified?

I came across this post via Goofy Mama’s blog. This is not written by me. It is written by a courageous girl Saugata Chatterjee. Story, in her own words that was first posted here:

A few of my friends and I were just paying our bills and coming out of our regular Friday night watering hole and dinner place in Rest House Road, just off Brigade Road, and most of the women in the company were already standing outside. Some of us outside were smoking, people were happy, there was laughter and jokes, as there were many other people in the street, all coming out, satiated, in the closing hour of the various pubs and restaurants around.

Suddenly from up the street a massive SUV comes revving and speeding, hurtling down, and stops in a scream of brakes and swirling dust, millimeters away from this group of 4 women, barely missing one of their legs. A white Audi, imported, still under transfer, with the registration plate of KA-51 TR-2767. Some millionaire’s toy thing, that in the wrong hands can kill.

Naturally the women are in shock. And quickly following the shock comes indignation. These are self made women running their own businesses, managing state responsibilities for global NGO firms, successful doctors. They are not used to being bullied. So they turn around, instead of shrinking back in fear. They protest.

And as soon as they turn around in protest, the car doors are flung open, and a stream of 4-5 rabid men run out towards these women, screaming obscenities in Hindi and Kannada against women in general, fists flailing. Some of us who came in running at the sound of the screaming brakes now stand in the middle in defense of our women, and then blows start raining down. One of the goons make a couple of calls over the cellphone, and in seconds a stream of other equally rabid goondas land up. They gun straight for the women, and everyone – a few well-meaning bystanders, acquaintances who know us from the restaurant, basically everyone who tries to help the women – starts getting thoroughly beaten up.

Women are kicked in the groin, punched in the stomach, slapped across the face, grabbed everywhere, abused constantly. Men are smashed up professionally, blows aimed at livers, groins, kidneys and nose. A friend is hit repeatedly on the head by a stone until he passes out in a flood of blood.

A plain-clothes policeman (Vittal Kumar) who saunters in late stands by watching and urging people to stop, but doing absolutely nothing else. A ‘cheetah’ biker cop comes in, with our women pleading him to stop this madness, but he refuses action, saying a police van will come in soon and he cannot do anything. Everyone keeps getting hammered. Relentlessly.

The carnage continues for over 20 minutes.

Finally when the police van does come in it is this vandals who are raging and ranting, claiming to be true “sons of the Kannadiga soil”, and we are positioned to be the villainous outsiders, bleeding, outraged. How do the cops believe them, especially seeing the bloody faces of our men and the violated rage of our women, while they carry nary a scratch on their bodies? Don’t ask me! Yet, it is us who these goondas urge the newly arrived law-keepers to arrest, and the police promptly comply, and we are bundled into the van, some still being beaten as we are pushed in. Some blessed relief from pain inside the police van at least, even if we are inside and the real goons outside, driving alongside in their spanking white Audi. The guy who was hit by the stone is taken separately by the women to Mallya hospital.

Inside the police station at Cubbon Park it becomes clear that these goons and the police know each other by their first names. The policeman in charge (Thimmappa) initially refuses to even register any complaint from me, on the purported grounds that I am not fluent in Kannada and I have taken a few drinks (3 Kingfisher pints, to be precise) over the evening. No, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t have my car and was not driving, and no, it doesn’t mater that the complaint will be written in English. We watch them and the goons exchange smiles and nods with our our bloodied and swelling eyes and realize in our pain-clouded still-in-shock brains the extent of truth in the claim of one of the main goons when he claimed earlier in the evening in virulent aggression: we own this town, this car belongs to an MLA, we will see how you return to this street!!

This was the turning point of the saga, I guess. For we refused to lie down quietly and be victims.

One of our girls, a vintage and proud Bangalorean who is running one of the town’s most successful organic farming initiatives, took upon herself to write the complaint, when I was not allowed to write the same. Another Bangalore girl, a state director of a global NGO firm, wrote the other molestation complaint separately on behalf of all the girls. Some of us called our friends in the media and corporate world. Everyone stepped up. And even when the odds were down and we were out, we did not give up, and as a singular body of violated citizens we spoke in one voice of courage and indomitable spirit. That voice had no limitation of language, not Kannada, nor English, or Hindi. It was the voice of human spirit that cannot be broken.

And in the face of that spirit, for the first time, we saw the ugly visage of vandalism, hiding behind the thin and inadequate veil of political corrupt power, narrow-vision regionalism and self-serving morality, start to wilt.

We spent 6 hours next day in the police station. The sub-inspector of police who filed our FIR, Ajay R M, seemed a breath of fresh air inasmuch that he did not appear a-priori biased like others, even though the hand of corruption and politico-criminal power backing these goons was still manifest in many ways: a starched, white-linen power-broker walked in handing over his card to the sub-inspector in support of the goons; the goons got an audience with the Inspector because of this intervention, while we had to interact one level lower down in the hierarchy; the plains cloth policeman of last night, even though he had arrived far too late in the crime scene, gave a warped statement, passing it off as a “neutral” point of view, repeatedly stressing that we came out of a pub and hence were drinking, positioning this as a ‘drunken brawl’, while completely forgetting to mention the unprovoked attack against the women and the one-sided vandalism and violence that ensued. I guess one cannot blame the low ranked police officer – the criminal connections of these goons must be pervasive enough for him to be careful.

Thanks however to the impartial handling of the situation by Ajay, soon the goons were all identified. The lead actor was one Ravi Mallaya (38), a real estate honcho and owner of a small property off Brigade Road which he has converted into a “gaming” (you know what that means, don’t you?) adda. The others identified are Mohan Basava (22) of Chamarajapet 12th Cross, R. Vijay Kumar Ramalingaraju (25) and Shivu Rajashekar (20). All are residents of 12th & 13th Cross in Vyalikaval. Their bravado and machismo were by that time evaporated. It was good to see their faces then.

Of course nothing much happened to them, nor did we expect it. They were supposed to be in lock up for at least the weekend till they were produced in court, but we understand that they were quickly released on (anticipatory?) bail. The car, purportedly belonging to an MLA, also does not figure in the FIR, apparently for reasons of “irrelevance to the case”.The media also have given us fantastic coverage and support so far, strengthening the cause.

The goons meanwhile, as an after thought, also filed the customary reverse complaint on the morning after we filed our own complaint: the women have apparently scratched the car! (Why did they not file the complaint the same night, considering they came to the Police Station in the same car? Why was the car allowed to be taken off police custody? Why is the car still irrelevant to the case and not in the FIR? Questions.. questions..).

Is this the end of this saga? Probably not. Are these women, more precious to us as friends and wives than most things in our lives, safe to walk or drive down Brigade Road from now on or are the goonda elements, slighted by this arrest and disgrace, are lying in ambush, waiting, biding their time to cause some of us more grievous harm? We don’t know. Is there reason for us to remain apprehensive of future attacks and victimization? Perhaps.

But here is the point.

We stood up.

We believed in the power of individual citizens even in the face of hooliganism, intolerance, corruption and power mongering. Even though many of us have the option of leveraging political or government connections, we deliberately chose to fight this battle as individuals. Sure, these connections have been activated and they have been kept informed, should the worst case scenario unfold tomorrow. But we have chosen to not leverage them. And in every small win we register as a group of individual outraged citizens of Bangalore and India, however insignificant these milestones may be in the larger scheme of things, there is one small notch adding up in favor of what is right, one small notch against what is wrong. And we believe that every such small notch counts, each such mark is absolutely invaluable.

It is the people who make this city, this country, this world. It is you and I, as much as the terrorists inside and outside. And in our small insignificant little ways, it is my responsibility and yours to not shirk from investing effort – not just lip service or any token attempt, but real effort – in backing up what we ourselves believe in. It is so easy to logically argue that everything is corrupt, nothing is worth it, there are so many risks involved. We must not fall trap to this escapist trend. We must not fail to try.

Next time you feel outraged, violated, abused, don’t let it go by and add up to your list of litanies and complaints. Stand up and take it to the limit – at least your own limit. Not in the same way as they wrong you, but in the way that every citizen, at least in theory, is entitled to complain and protest. Do not let the hooligans power rant scare you or prompt you into submission. Do not allow the corrupt cop make you give up trying. Carry the flame forward. Try harder.

If are up to it, start right now.

Forward this note to everyone you want to be made aware of this. Post it in your own blogs. Talk about it amongst your circles. And if anyone of you should like to step forward with a word of empathy or advise, talk to me. Comment.

It is not Bangalore that is going to the dogs. It is us. We have far too long become accustomed to let everything go. And the more we let things go without any protest or fight, the dormant criminal and dark elements of the society get that much more encouraged. Every time we turn the other way, the hooligan next street gets incentivized to push the boundary a little further, provoke a little more, try something a little more atrocious. It is time for us to refuse to let this go on. We are responsible for making ourselves proud. Lets believe in ourselves. We can do this.

My name is Saugata Chatterjee. And I am standing up. I refuse to let Bangalore go to the hooligan slumdogs, even if some of them are pets of corrupt power millionaires.

Photo via

39 Responses to “It Happened in Bangalore!”

  1. 1 Indyeah February 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing it here Poonam..I had read it on GM’s when I had just discovered GM,and was shocked to read thisaccount by Saugata..

    the bottomline as Saugata says is this…stand up and be counted..stand up for India..

    PS:-Are there any news links to this as well?

  2. 3 Vee February 26, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    This is my 3rd read…. after I first read it at sulekha and then shobhaa de also posted and now u… shobhaa has come up with ‘Sita Sena’ as a solution..

  3. 4 Biju Mathews February 26, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Wow, this is shocking and just didn’t hear about it (guess, it didn’t make it to the news papers in Kerala). Yes, it is us who are to the dogs, not Mangalore or Bangalore. I hope these guys get booked soon and never see daylight!!

    Keep Blogging!

  4. 5 Nimmy February 26, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I just knew this 😦

    This is scary Poonan..If I was in such a situation,I don’t know whether i will fight or flee

  5. 6 Dev February 26, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing it. You are doing a great service by writing about such issues.

  6. 7 Den Relojo February 26, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    To flight or to flee? Indeed, that is the question? But who are really brave enought to hurdle those challenges?

  7. 8 Indian Homemaker February 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I have read that on Goofy Mamma and Dipali’s blogs. I read about Sita Sena too, maybe it should be called DURGA SENA.

    But a protest is necessary. Many strong protests in fact.

  8. 9 Chittaranjan February 27, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Gosh! Why wasn’t this on the news? Those dufuses show nonsensical news of all kind and don’t report this horrific incident?

    These ladies deserve more than just our sympathy…they need our full support. Every Indian should stand up against such self-righteous holier-than-thou rascals πŸ‘Ώ

    Tx Poonam for bringing it to the forefront….

  9. 10 vimal February 27, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Theres something fishy about this. Why wasnt this brought to the media like how it has been mentioned in her write up? especially when the media is that hungry for sensational news.

    If this is indeed true, it is much more disturbing than the mangalore incident, a lump in the throat feeling. What has happened to our country? We have pledged our freedom and happines to a bunch of illeterate thugs or what !

  10. 12 Vikas Gupta February 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Shocking and disturbing! It should be called ‘Durga Sena’, I second Indian Homemaker.

  11. 13 Amit February 27, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Such incidents make me really sad. What have we done to our country? All the freedom fighting and sacrifices were in vain?

  12. 14 Liju Philip February 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Elections are coming. BJP is letting loose all its dogs on the market. They will go to any lengths to win the elections.

    I rather take dynastic politics anyday than a set of Taliban followers who try to impose their lifestyle on me.

  13. 15 sakhi February 27, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I read the original one and was numb for sometime!! I don’t know where these things are going to end?? And we curse talibaan!! Are we differet at all?? And if police can’t do anything who will???

    A lot of questions and majority of them unanswered. 😦

  14. 16 Chirag Chamoli February 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Read it and was shameful.

  15. 17 Solilo February 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Poonam, Read that on GM’s blog and at couple of other places. Years back I have slapped a guy for teasing me but I don’t know what would I do if couple of goons attack me like this.

    Still we need to stand up and fight for it. That’s the only way and another way is to bring them to light and humiliate them.

    BTW did you find any way for us to start a bloggers union? We need lawyers for sure as bloggers.

    • 18 Poonam Sharma February 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

      Solilo, I am very big to have a blogger’s union. THat is what I have been ranting out. We need some sort of organisation. I am yet to find a legal blogger, don’t know any so far. But hope to find a legal expert by next week.

      You have any ideas about how to create our blogger’s union?

  16. 19 Nita February 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Sad and tragic to hear what is happening to Bangalore, one of the most liberal cities in India. I should say used to be. When I lived there over a decade ago.

  17. 20 dinu February 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    reading those posts now .. please correct the link on the first para … πŸ™‚

  18. 22 dinu February 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    read the post .. unbelievable … say thanks to those who elected this government for them !! don’t make that mistake again ..

  19. 23 Smita February 28, 2009 at 6:51 am

    The more i read such incidents the more my blood boils. We live in a country of fools and goonda’s. Sadly we are the fools here who let these goonda’s rule and seriously it was great to see that these ladies didn’t bow down. But i wonder till when we this will go on. The girls here are now fighting for their rights & plight but have to use word of mouth for getting heard. The most interesting thing here is that these guys were all so young and i can vouch my life about their hypocricsy. As a nation we for sure are taking collective steps towards bygone era.

  20. 24 oorja February 28, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    i don’t know what to say. i feel angry , sad, ashamed and a lot more.
    we must do something NOW or it will get out of the hands. it is starting in to give a kick to the hooligans in beating up and abusing women. they enjoy doing it.

    how does the bloggers union work if/when you start one. have you planned anything in detail?

  21. 25 Solilo February 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Poonam, All I can think of is starting a blog and all of us bloggers joining in. We can post our ideas on how to tackle any blogging issue and even when one of us is targeted, she can air her views on that blog.

    We can also invite media personalities to be part of it.

  22. 26 amreekandesi March 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    It is horrible how these women were abused in public. This is the sad state of affairs in our country where petty politicians think that they own the country and can get away with anything.

    The fact that these girls stood up and went on to file complaints is encouraging, and should become more of a trend. We should not tolerate this crap anymore.

    This is of course, easier said than done. If we talk of fighting the system, we need to be prepared to pay the consequences too. Its going to be long and painful, but the rewards will be worth it.

    Gosh…i guess i made it sound like a freedom struggle. But maybe that’s what it is…freedom from these subversive elements out to ruin the country.

  23. 27 Chirag Chamoli March 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

    What hurts more is this happening to Bangalore, one of the most liberal cities in India. Our we now back tracking these developments as a society. Either ways these women are still not given any justice.

  24. 29 Nikhil March 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Why doesn’t anyone arrest the bastard?

  25. 31 More is coming for women March 19, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Though this makes sad reading, this is just the beginning.

    Poonam in a few months you wont even be able to file a complaint, rather the police need not act on it, yes even if raped.

    I myself was shocked as Advani has promised to scrap the protection law (Article 41 etc) for women if they form the government.
    Why do you think free DTH is being given, so women are told where their place is – in the kitchen, dammit. Didn’t you know?

    We know many women have misused various provisions, but making them totally defenceless at the mercy of Rama Sena’s et al – is this a civil society, is India really forward and can it ever dream of being a world power.

    No governemnt seems able to do anything about the politician (they all have to be goons & Corrupt), police etc.

    Keep dreaming of India Shining – my foot. Repeating a lie will not help.

    James, this is one of the most angry comments I have come across in months. I am not sure which issue you are talking about. Article 41 is “State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.” What did Advani promise, I am afraid I am not aware. Could you elaborate?

    Though I understand your anger for it seethes within all of us, I hope we can channelise it to something positive.

  26. 32 More is coming for women March 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Oh buy the way stop dreaming we can vote these chaddi gangs out, the educated do not know the power of the ballot, its seriousness, can only cry. I doubt well make a differnece this time

    James – who wrote above ‘More is coming for women’

  27. 33 Ritu March 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

    The comment given up here made my intestines twist up inside. I am paranoid – yes paranoid that we may go the Middle East way. Somehow with the current intolerant climate of this world, it seems probable

    We all v v far from going to Middle East way. This was a way to gain attention before elections. I wish we could ahve them banned based on this behavior.

  1. 1 Elections are here and the hunting dogs are out « A load of crap from an idle brain Trackback on February 27, 2009 at 6:48 am
  2. 2 World is flat, My Ass « Chirag Chamoli Trackback on March 25, 2009 at 10:24 am
  3. 3 Essays - World is flat, My Ass Trackback on May 4, 2010 at 11:28 am
  4. 4 Elections are here and the hunting dogs are out - The Business, Finance & Investments Blog Trackback on November 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

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