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Trauma of an ordinary citizen in Bangalore

August 10, 2009

A few years ago a close family friend underwent a traumatic experience in Bangalore which I want to share here. I can personally vouch for the authenticity of this report as I know the person for 30+ years. He had not told us about his experience in detail earlier but did so a few days ago. I am publishing it here because I think people in India and abroad should know that in India people with political connections can get away with any crime. And innocent people like you and me can become victims.
All names have been changed to protect our friend from further harassment.

This is the account in our friend’s own words:
On 28 April, S Ravindran, along with Saleem Mukesh came to my home (BTM Layout), at about 1.00 P.M. & asked my wife, Mangala where I was as they had some official work with me. My wife gave them my office telephone number.

At around 2.15 p.m. the same day as I was returning from lunch, I received a call from the telephone operator of my company, a multinational company informing me that one S Ravindran (which rang a bell as it was the same last name as a very powerful politician) had come to meet me. When I entered the office, Mr. Ravindran questioned me as to why I was making calls to his wife. When I asked him to elaborate, he said that about a week back I was supposed to have made calls from my mobile number to the mobile of his wife, when I allegedly asked her to meet me implying that she had met me in a restaurant. Ravindran further accused me of having said that she had herself given me the number.

I did not immediately realise what had happened, but did so subsequently. However, I will recount the background here, before I tell the rest of the story:

(Background:
One of my German associates (let’s call him MB) who was around 25 years of age, had used my mobile to make some calls about a week before S Ravindran came to my office. This was not the first time that MB had visited India. Six months earlier on his trip to India he had met a girl called Rehana at a restaurant on Vellara Junction, Hosur Road. I, as well other colleagues from India, Germany and Korea were present on this day where we had all gone for drinks and dinner. MB became friendly with Rehana and told her to call my mobile as his was an international roaming number so that I could save the number on my mobile. She called and my mobile saved the number.

After MB left India, I deleted the number from my mobile as I was not comfortable with the idea of  keeping a telephone number of a girl like this on my mobile. When MB again visited India,  he wanted to speak to Rehana. This, as I mentioned earlier, happened a week before I met Ravindran. I told MB that I had deleted the number. He however insisted on checking my mobile and found the number of one Rehana on my mobile. I thought perhaps that the number had not got deleted. MB then tried to speak to Rehana  and called her 2-3 times. The calls must have lasted for a few seconds each. As Rehana did not show any inclination to meet him, MB gave up.

What I did not know at the time was this was another Rehana. At an exhibition in Mysore I had met another lady by the name of Rehana who was the coordinator at an exhibition where my company had a stall and which required me to talk to her on the telephone several times. I saved her number on my mobile and after the Mysore exhibition was over, I forgot about the number and her name as well. Rehana also called me several time during the course of the exhibition).

When Ravindran started shouting on top of his voice in my office and making a scene, I did not immediately recall the above. I was a little flummoxed and told him and Mukesh that they should talk softly and if need be, we could go out for a discussion. At the same time my mind was racing as to what calls had been made from my mobile a week earlier. By now they had told me that my mobile service provider had given them my home address and I was fuming as to how they had dared to give my residence address to some goons without any official authority.

Outside the office there was a parked Lancer along side of which was an Inspector and a constable from the nearby police station. I was a little intimidated by the police presence and when they ordered me to get in the car and accompany them to the police station I did so thinking that at the police station matters would be sorted out. I went with them secure in my innocence and secure that everything would be sorted out. I kept telling these men that this was probably a case of mistaken identity but they did not pay heed.

I kept saying that I had not called any girl called Rehana and they said I was a liar and that I had got Rehana’s number from Mukesh’s personal digital assistant. Apparently Rehana was his girl-friend. I told him that I had no knowledge of the PDA but they insisted I had stolen it. I kept denying it but they did not seem to care and I soon realised that they were not taking me to the police station. I told them to take me to the police station, but instead they took me to a hotel in in Bommasandra. I was surrounded by these two men and two policemen and could do nothing.

Soon after the real intentions of the two kidnappers came out. They told me that if I wanted to be let go I needed to give them Rs 50,000. If I didn’t they would meet with seniors in my company and expose me. They wanted to know the name of the person to whom I allegedly sold the stolen PDA and the amount that I received for the stolen PDA. He mentioned that the PDA is worth Rs.60000/-.

I asked them from where could I have stolen the PDA. They said that the PDA was on the car roof outside Mr. Mukesh’s house, which apparently was also in BTM layout! When Mr. Mukesh went to the garage for a short while, the PDA was stolen. Mr. Mukesh was very upset when I asked him where he was staying in BTM and asked me loudly to just shut up.

They sat down to lunch but I declined to eat anything, telling them that I had already eaten. They asked my salary and when I told them it was only Rs 25,000 p.m. and that I could not pay such a huge amount as my bank balance did not have it. So they allowed me to call my father to ask for the money.

My father, who was in Delhi at the time got a shock when he realised that I had been kidnapped and told me that he would try and call some people to get me freed. But the kidnappers realised that something was askew and snatched my mobile from me. I mentioned to Mr. Ravindran that he could not keep my mobile forcibly after which he switched off the mobile and gave it to the police inspector.

They had a good lunch, were enjoying themselves, laughing, talking something in Kannada to the police persons & appeared delighted at my plight.

Whenever I said anything to protest my innocence, they accused me in front of the police persons to be mentally imbalanced because the police persons had to have a good lunch.

After lunch, Mr. Mukesh paid the bill. I again requested for my mobile, which they gave me. In the parking lot of the hotel, when my father again called, Ravindran again snatched my mobile. My father told him that he would be talking to the Police Commissioner. This was the final straw for them after which, although they never told me where they were going, decided to take me to my office to “expose” me. I kept saying that we should go to the police station but they did not take me there.

All this while they kept asking for money and I kept refusing. And Ravindran kept saying that he is D. Ravindran’s nephew & that I should just do what he says.

By now my father had called up my office and told the Manager Administration, that I was being held somewhere in the presence of police persons and that my office should take some action.

They again asked me to pay the money immediately. I again refused. After this they again told me to shut up for half an hour and just do what they were saying. All this took place in the presence of the police persons.

We went to the office (my MD & JMD were not there). But the manager admin and the Customer Support Manager met with Mr. Ravindran, Mr. Mukesh & I. We all went to our conference room, where they told our Managers that I have made calls to Mr. Mukesh’s fiancée at odd hours talking about some restaurant and that I stolen their PDA to get the mobile number of Mr. Mukesh’s fiancée. They demanded compensation for the loss of the PDA. I intervened and denied the allegation. Mr. Ravindran again accused me of being mentally imbalanced.

The manager admin then called up Rehana, on whose mobile the call was made. I could not understand what she was said. Apparently she confirmed that she had got the call from my mobile.

Meanwhile, my father had called up the police in Pune and another friend my father’s spoke with an ACP in Bangalore. All this while, Ravindran & Mukesh insisted that I had stolen their PDA and that I should either substitute a new PDA or compensate them monetarily.

In the meantime, I got a call from a senior police officer (DCP) known to my father and although the operator transferred the call to the conference room. While I was talking to the DCP, Ravindran snatched the phone from my hand. This was in the presence of the police persons, Mukesh and the managers of my company.

At this stage, Ravindran said the courts had closed as it was already past 1600 hours and that I could not get bail then. He then threatened me with arrest unless I paid up. I kept on insisting that I am not going to pay & let the law take its course. In the meantime, Ravindran threatened that he will call the Times of India and tell them that I, an employee of such and such company was a theif. At that time, in the panic situation, I did not realise that no one could arrest me without an arrest warrant.

My company officials started to pressurise me to pay up and that they would handle the situation later. Under duress and pressure from my Company, I agreed to pay. Mr. Ravindran said I could give a cheque for Rs.30000/-on Mukesh’s name to which Mr. Mukesh did not agree unless I give a letter with the cheque mentioning that I was giving the cheque in lieu of the PDA, which I had stolen. I refused to give such a letter. Mr. Mukesh said in such a case, he wants no record & wants only cash. I said that I do not have the cash and I could borrow money from the company cashier only after the return of the Managing Director of the company (who was travelling).

They then said that I could give a self-cheque of Rs.30000/- for exchange for cash the next day, which they will come to collect. As I did not have my cheque book in the office, Mr. Ravindran along with the Karnataka police constable accompanied me in my car to my home, took the cheque & left with Mr. Mukesh, who was following our car. While I gave a self-cheque, I did not sign at the back of the cheque, making it invalid for encashment.

By this time details about my interactions with Rehana had come back to me. I remembered that Rehana must be the coordinator who was helping all the companies who were participating in the exhibition in organizing tables, chairs etc.

This was not the end of the matter.  I had approached the police station and talked to an ACP. Although he was nice to me on my face, after some hours he called me up and abused me and told me that I better pay up!

A few days later Mukesh called up my colleague Mr. D and wanted to know why we had not come to deliver the cash. Mr D referred the matter to me and I immediately called up Mukesh and told him that we were waiting for him in our office. Mukesh rudely and loudly blurted that he will not come. I explained to him that this has now become company matter and he would have to come to the office, which he refused. I asked him whether this was his final decision and hung up. Mukesh again called up my company and spoke to the manager admin to ask when the money was going to be paid.

My father had managed by now to get in touch with a senior police official in the Bangalore police. This police officer called me and Mukesh to the police station to sort out matters. Mukesh did not turn up. That was indeed the end of the matter but during the days when this was going on my wife and I suffered some sleepless nights.

After the whole episode, I have a few questions:

Can I file a case against harassment & mental torture?
Can I file a case against defamation because of allegation of theft of the PDA?
Can I file a case against character assassination for falsely accusing me of calling up some ones wife / fiancée, on a case of mistaken identity?
Can I file a case against the mobile service provider for giving my house address to some extortionists?
Can I file a case against manhandling & snatching away mobile / phone instruments from my hand?
Alternatively, is it better to close the case without paying the extortion money but requesting the Karnataka police to initiate action against the blackmailers?

Finally I did nothing as no further calls came to me. I realised that I had been saved because my father had connections in the police establishement. I wonder what would have happened to someone who didn’t have any connections. He would have had to pay his hard-earned money to these thieves. And I am quite sure that many did as this useless relative of the powerful politician was a goonda.

Related Reading: Lone cop stands up to an accused from a prominent political family
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33 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 11:25 pm

    That was shocking. If these things are left unchecked by police, any one can harass and start collecting money this way. But I think even the police sometimes is not able to interfere when political connections come into the picture. One good lesson to learn for us is to be careful about who we are giving our mobiles to and what they are doing with them. I never thought a casual mobile call could become so costly. What the person says is true: If his father had no police connections, the situation would have been very tough to handle!

    Maybe some scheme ought to be worked out by the companies or even neighbourhood associations to come together during such crisis and help each other. Unrelated, but even in blogs: When a big media company threatens an individual blogger for expressing his views, we also need to support each other through some kind of mutual association/understanding. Last time, it was just about taking the article out of the blog. Next time it could be a case against a blogger in a court.

    Destination Infinity

  2. Meghna permalink
    August 11, 2009 7:25 am

    This reads like a horror story. One thing is clear. If one meddles around with a politician then all hell can break lose. It was really lucky I think that the man was simply an extortionist. If he was really mad about something god knows what he would have done!

  3. Vinod permalink
    August 11, 2009 8:01 am

    This makes me very weak.

  4. August 11, 2009 9:14 am

    This is scary. Not that I wasn’t aware of such things happening but we always believe that it will be someone else and not us…. this story made me realize that with the way things are in our country.. anything could happen anywhere and to anyone!

  5. August 11, 2009 9:56 am

    I completely believe this as i ‘KNOW’ what can happen in India if one has political connections! This article resurfaced some ugly memories of mine!! :(

  6. August 11, 2009 10:41 am

    I wasn’t surprised much. In this country connections are very important. There are instances where we make ‘friends’ with the influential even if we aren’t huge fans of them.

    Of course we all hate , but we can’t do anything about it because we all aren’t organized like they are. we can’t complain because we are scared to take them on alone. We can do something only if we are united.

    • Vinod permalink
      August 11, 2009 2:56 pm

      How can we organize, Vivek? Any thoughts?

  7. shraddha@theselfloveproject permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:16 am

    very scary…

    it was very long to read but your writing had me gripped…

    good job..

  8. Naveen permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:17 am

    There is an imminent need to modernize Indian courts and resolve pending cases. This is more important than any infrastructure project, the Government planned. Today’s legal system gives a victim- a fear of getting entangled in a decade long court case and the criminal- an idea that he can escape at any cost. This is one reason for emboldened criminals committing this kind of crimes.

    My Uncle bought a plot to know later that the developer sold the same plot to two other people and got it registered for all three of them. The Developer obviously with political/police connections is out of sight now and my Uncle’s case is one of the 300+ cases against him. Fraudsters obviously care less about these cases, which go nowhere.

    • Rashmi permalink
      August 11, 2009 1:13 pm

      This looks like the story of movie ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’! So real…

  9. Rashmi permalink
    August 11, 2009 1:17 pm

    I see one more lesson here:

    Never give your number as a contact number for someone else. Similar to a thumb rule : never stand as a bank account guarantor for a unknown / barely known person.

    Even though your friend did not make those calls, his mobile was mistakenly used by MB to make those calls. So any legal case won’t stand in court as mobile will be major evidence.

  10. Rashmi permalink
    August 11, 2009 1:23 pm

    I am thinking of this situation from girl’s point of view. Imagine someone getting 2-3 calls on mobile at odd hours to secretly meet at a restaurants! Can you contemplate the traumatic situation and the fear the girl/woman goes through?

    I have been thr’ a similar situation of getting hoax abusive calls while my husband was out of India… And I still shiver when i remember those 2-3 dreadful days! fortunately, calls suddenly stopped after 2 days, but it still was a horrific situation…!

    However, In your friend’s case, those goondas misbehaved and exploited the situation unnecessarily.

  11. August 11, 2009 2:31 pm

    !!!
    Political goondas, there is no way a common man like you and me can fight them. The police who ought to help us are part of the goonda gang.
    I guess only the media could bring these cases to light and help the common man get justice.

    • Captain Sharks permalink
      August 11, 2009 4:50 pm

      xylene, policemen are also common people like us only, it is not a good idea for us to sit here and expect everything from them. Earlier i used to think that people in our country are apathetic but now i am realizing that we are more socially conscious people, it is just the fear that is turning our consciousness into apathy

      • August 12, 2009 4:14 pm

        Well, I would generalize the police different from the common people. They are part of common people when they are out of the Khakki or when they retire from their jobs.
        I havent come across one policeman in my life who doesnt accept bribe/honest/uplifting the law

        I guess many would agree, when I say the common people dont like them.
        Actually we are not expecting anything from them. But they are.

  12. Joss permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:14 pm

    “I kept insisting that I am not going to pay and let the law take its course.” This sentence rang a bell with me because I am currently being harrassed by my son’s ex-school for a fee that I don’t believe I ought to pay. I personally feel I would have a better chance explaining the situation to a court than I have done explaining it to the school. Now, I realise that my situation is nothing like your friend’s story, and not terrifying in any way. But I was surprised to read that your friend too had faith in the courts. Is it really the case that in India, where corruption is rife in the political and law enforcement systems, the justice system is relatively untarnished? I do hope so.

    • Rashmi permalink
      August 11, 2009 3:30 pm

      Yes, thats correct. We still have lot of hope in hour judiciary system. Thats the only authority in India which is constantly asking uncomfortable questions to politicians in various cases, policy decisions. and it drives the government to act on or enforce certain rules which they otherwise dont wish to tackle.

      Its only supreme court in India that hasn’t lost senses yet, rest all systems are too corrupt.

  13. Preeti permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:31 pm

    This is scary but not very hard to believe.

    Last week only I had heard an almost similar case like this. I was quite bewildered while I was hearing it but after pondering over it a bit, the only conclusion I could come to, was, that in India, like many other things, this too is all ‘Ram Bharose’!

  14. August 11, 2009 3:59 pm

    Hmmm… it was never a suprising one… this happens daily in this country.. those who are at the power treats… sorry threats anybody and with the connections they have escapes without any problems… this will happen until people dont know how to handle when in power and morals will fly…
    another blogger who is going through a same kind of thing has posted his experience… if you have some time please read it… I am commenting from my mobile so couldnt give you the exact link… his web address is http://www.smilemakerkrishna.blogspot.com, I think… I have given the exact link in one of my posts titled ‘please read it friends’ by July 27.

  15. August 11, 2009 6:01 pm

    It is so shocking and disgusting.. In our country, power and connections can make anything happen… and anybody without any connections will just get sucked dry.. Such things, we keep seeing in movies, hearing about them in real life scares me so much.. The police who are supposed to protect us – will do nothing to help.

  16. August 11, 2009 7:00 pm

    OMG….you narrated a live horror story.I am not sure whether such blackmailing stories are common in India but no piece of paper moves a inch unless you bribe or have connections.

  17. August 11, 2009 10:09 pm

    OMG!! Its shocking and scary!!

  18. August 12, 2009 10:07 am

    Its so true, Politics is considered to be dirtiest profession.
    Well hell broke lose on your friend.

  19. August 12, 2009 2:40 pm

    DI, I think that is a good precaution to take, be sure who we are giving our mobile too! About the blogger I think one should try and garner public support if he stays within the law.

    Meghna, true, if the man wanted revenge he could have done anything.

    Vinod, dont worry about it too much. I know you are coming to India. One just has to be careful with politicians. They are the rajahs here.

    perplexed, that’s true, no one is really safe.

    sakhi, you must share your experience.

    vishesh, uniting Indians is a huge task!!

    shraddha, thanks.

    naveen, as you say it is a fear of a long drawn out battle and people don’t have time. I think they should reduce holidays for judges and make them accountable.

    Rashmi, I agree with you here. No point letting some stranger use one’s number. God know who that stranger might be!

    Xylene, you have got it right. Only awareness through media helps. It also puts the politicians on guard.

    Joss, India’s judicial system is not bad, it’s just very slow. People in India do get justice through the courts, however it might take long. There is another catch. An influential politician or very rich person will definitely try and bribe judges and judges are not past this. this happens more in lower courts.

  20. August 12, 2009 2:44 pm

    Preeti, Smitha, I guess that’s why we have so many hindi films where bad things keep happening to people for no fault of their own! Just fate!!

    Kanagu, Captain Sharks, Reema, smi, sunny thanks for your comments.

  21. Vinod permalink
    August 12, 2009 2:53 pm

    Nita, your lovely words from your lovely heart are a source of hope.

  22. Another Bangalore person permalink
    August 12, 2009 3:14 pm

    Oh Nita. This reads like so many stories ( untold because the lawyers scare us off telling on the cops) from any citizen.

    Chasing a FIR; I was slapped and abused by several police personnel inside a police station in Bangalore. All this while I had a bleeding wound inflicted by a sick person – who got away with his actions as he+”his people” have local, small time goonda, political and other connections.

    I cannot name him here. Classic case of protecting the insane.

    • August 12, 2009 3:54 pm

      Another Bangalore person, I am sorry to hear about your experience. As you said there must be hundreds and thousands of innocent Indians who suffer because they have come up against some politician whom the police dare not go against. Although the Supreme Court has directed the state govts to make the police autonomous, states are refusing to do this and it is clear why. It will reduce one perk of the politicians, protection from any crime they commit. Until and unless the police is freed from the control, things will never change. Today with just a nod, police officers can be suspended, transferred and dismissed. Its all on the whims of the politicians. And ofcourse plum posts, transfers and promotions are also dependent on which police officers play ball. Its a terrible system.

  23. August 14, 2009 2:11 am

    It is very shocking and scary! Where is justice in all of this?

  24. August 21, 2009 4:31 pm

    I echo everyone else’s words: scary, very scary. One of my friends has actually tried to fight this stale old justice system, and the story reminded me of her horror stories and the harassment she faced. Her case is still going on, and the family of the accused harass her continually to withdraw the case. This is still going on!

  25. 404 permalink
    September 5, 2009 1:48 am

    Story is not that scary because issue was not big. I know some real stories where police has done really scary things. For e.g. couple of police officers are in jail for fake encounter of innocent people. This guy should become strong and file case against them and make them feel guilty so they won’t do in with anyone in future.

  26. Bharat permalink
    September 29, 2009 5:08 pm

    hey this is all real scary….stuff like this makes me hate this country…..strong and harsh words, i know…..but i cant help it….goin to the cops in this country seems futile….hate them and politicians and their cronies…….

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