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Poverty stricken 17 year old school drop-out outshines police

September 8, 2007

Of the many human interest news stories that appeared in the last week, there was one which moved me greatly. This appeared in the Mumbai Mirror today…the story of the boy cop.

A 17-year-old boy, drugged and robbed at a railway station, staked out a railway station for 22 long days, morning and night, building up a network of informers, friends and supporters…and finally caught the man who had robbed him!

I was amazed at the boy’s determination and tenacity. True, he had high motivation to catch the man who had duped him, as the boy’s savings (Rs 8,500) of over 3 long years in Mumbai (probably earned by working as slave labour!) and the gifts he had bought for his family back home (from whom he had been estranged) had been stolen. The boy had been on his way home to Bihar. He was looking forward to returning as a kind of hero, after having run away from home to make his fortune and had hoped to reach in time for Raksha Bandhan.

In this story it wasn’t just the boy’s ability that struck me. As the newspaper report points out, it was the inability of the policemen.

Guess what…the boy’s complaint was never registered, inspite of him complaining to the police. Nothing new. A poor destitute kid. Who will care?

What beats me is that there are policemen all over the railway station, and patrolling the station is their job…so why couldn’t they have kept a lookout? They could have got a sketch made from the boy’s description. The boy knew the face well as the man had befriended him and talked to him for quite some time.

And if the kid knew that the thief “would return to fool somebody else like he had fooled me” surely the cops were smart enough to know that too? This is the modus operandi of most thieves! They invariably use familiar areas to commit crimes, and have a regular ‘beat’ so to say.

This incident underlines some of the reasons why gangs and thieves on railway stations are proliferating. This 17-year old uneducated and untrained boy has clearly demonstrated that it is not that difficult to catch the robbers – all it takes is will and determination and hard work.

This incident not only highlights the lack of will on the part of the police to tackle crime, it again highlights the fact that crime statistics in this country are a big sham. Just the tip of the iceberg. Petty robberies are either not reported (people know that the police will shoo them away) or if reported, not registered.


(Photographs from Mumbai Mirror)

Update, 13th Sept: After people read about this boy in the Mumbai Mirror a lot of people came forward to give him gifts. He has not more than what he had earlier, but now he is refusing to accept any more gifts as he feels he will only take what he has lost! The good news is that a Bhandup-based NGO, People’s Power of Nation (PPN) is going to educate him! They will also provide him with a part-time job. 🙂

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2007 9:50 pm

    cho clever 😛

  2. September 8, 2007 10:32 pm

    yeah, that kid looks positively ten years old!!

  3. September 8, 2007 11:24 pm

    Police men, who are patrolling the station are too busy taking bribes from the passengers traveling without tickets. Of course these are the same people who have prevented so many crimes (things like robbery, snatching, BOMBING… etc) so efficiently. I think they can add this as another “accomplishment” in their list.

  4. September 8, 2007 11:25 pm

    BTW, Three cheers for the guy. 😀 damn cute kid 😀

  5. September 9, 2007 8:30 am

    I have long felt that the whole police system should be subjected to review, the individuals assessed and scum chopped off. After this basic cleansing, I would say jack up the salaries of the cops to those of the management executives. It is crucial to eliminate the constant feeling of want and greed in their minds. After they get good paychecks, any single instance of corruption must be a zero tolerance issue.

  6. September 9, 2007 8:44 am

    xnegvx, this problem of bribing has become endemic. They feel it’s their right as they are being badly paid! I was talking to someone confidentially (his brother is a constable) and that person said that how else is one supposed to feed one’s family. many policemen live in slum like conditions and can barely manage to educate their kids.

    Rambodoc, yep, cops’ salaries have to be increased, that is the need of the hour. I am not sure why this is not being done, why so many other things are getting a priority. In fact the salaries at the bottom could be raised across the board to a certain minimum level…and anything above that should be on merit.

  7. September 9, 2007 9:02 pm

    What an inspirational story! Amazing tenacity and application of the mind and heart to seek justice!

    Rambodoc/Nita: agree that the salaries have to be increased. However, the police force by itself does not constitute a significant vote bank! And the police force is not a ‘company’ that needs to show profitability as part of annual results – like for e.g. the Indian Railways. Hence the lack of any motivation for reforms.

  8. September 10, 2007 9:03 am

    And sometimes I feel that it suits the politicians if they people lower down are de-motivated…they become easier to bribe! These ‘bribes’ are often passed up…

  9. September 11, 2007 10:07 pm

    Separation of the executive from the legislative controls. Free the police from politicians.
    Consider this: If there is a matter of bank fraud or property dispute, what do you do? (the question should be a little more elaborate)
    Chinese: Do nothing.Blame the bad luck.
    Indians: Usually don’t go to police, but maybe file a court case.
    Canadians: Go to police and file a case.
    In China, the Judiciary (if at all) and Police are all part of the “system”. In India, atleast the courts function somehow.

  10. September 11, 2007 10:33 pm

    Priyank, good to hear that you have some faith in the courts! Actually, I do too, just that they are too slow!

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