It was 3.00 in the morning. I was in the cab on my way to work. For the last two weeks I was in the 4.00AM shift. The roads were deserted and we were cruising on the Mulund – Airoli bridge. At the toll gate, we saw that there were a group of Policemen on the other lane huddled over a small bonfire.
“Kaay saheb, bombil bhaajtaat ki kaay?” Asked our driver rolling down the window. Are you roasting Bombay Ducks?
The Policemen turned back and gave him a stern look. Our driver gave a sheepish smile and rolled the window up. The driver did not see what I was able to. The policemen were huddled over a small bonfire, braving the cold. One among them was apparently unwell as he was under blankets and shivering badly.
As we approached the toll gate, I saw that there were two very alert Policemen on either side of the road. They seemed very tired. Ten feet ahead was a Police Van with more tired cops and a tired Inspector on the walkie talkie. As our cab proceeded, I saw another Police Sedan doing the rounds of the empty street. Far ahead, I saw one cop sleeping on a chair. He was guarding the octroi post.
I could not help but feel sorry for the Policemen. I felt they were being harassed. Since the 2006 bomb blasts, they were given the additional responsibility of guarding every railway station in Mumbai and now after 26/11, they are expected to stand guard at the Airport,the malls , movie halls, roads, junctions & circles. Not to mention they are deployed to safeguard the Peace Marches, Marathons,Agitations and perhaps the worst of all, they have to guard the Politicians as well. And if this was not enough, they also have to be present at the Police Station to record the complaints of the drunkard’s wife, the rich brat’s whim, mobile thefts, murders, rapes and robberies.
Gone is the swagger of the policeman, they are tired overworked donkeys now. The city feels better seeing the Policemen deployed almost everywhere but ever wondered how the Policeman feels? I too, feel secure when I see a couple of cops around but seriously, are they supposed to guard malls and movie halls? 26/11 may have ‘hurt’ the Mumbaikar’s psyche, but it does not justify our current security apparatus!! Our Policemen certainly don’t lay golden eggs, but that doesn’t warrant a punishment to ‘Work till Death’!!