An Open Letter to the Udupi Police4 min read
Dear Udupi Police,
I speak on behalf of the enraged population of ex- and current students regarding the recent rules you have imposed clamping down the humble town of Manipal. These protests are not new. We have always been fond of living in a restriction-free world.
Perhaps the reason for our outcry has received more voice after reading Stanley Pinto’s skewed words on TOI which clearly indicates he bought himself a new thesaurus just for the sake of this one article.
I understand that curfews are not a new thing. They have existed whenever dictatorial governments have wanted to implement restrictive rules on their people when they believed they were getting out of hand – oh wait, is something being said here?
I agree, if a person is acting in an unruly and unjust way, by all means, put on those aviators and blow up some jeeps Rohit Shetty’s Singham style. But most of the time this has not been the case.
What I find underlying behind all these issues is actually Karnataka’s unrelenting attitude of ‘moral policing’ that has started to surface from a few years ago. Girls-are-going-to-suffer-the-fires-of-hell-for-revealing-an-ankle kind of thing. Is the 11.30 p.m. curfew being established more for our safety or because you’re pulling a conservative Brahmin parent on us? Instead of asking us to stay home because of rapists, ask the rapists to stay home. If I want to take an innocent walk, why am I being stopped? Because it’s dark? It’s dark because there’s a bigger issue at hand – inadequate street lights. In fact in the area I stay in, the idea of a streetlight is a tube light attached to a pole that is meant to illuminate streets for kilometers. The only thing they do ‘light’ is the 5cm radius around its source creating a halo around the tube light itself.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the idea behind the curfew is for our ‘greater good.’ And I completely agree with the fact that many people from my generation do not have the basic quality of self-discipline. Everybody seems to justify their actions with Drake’s phrase that should’ve actually gotten out of existence by now: YOLO (You only live once.) After all what real, dire, life-threatening business does a person have outside at two in the morning?
But I just want to confirm. How does ensuring that everybody is locked within the four corners of their home by 11.30 pm ensure any kind of safety? The three deaths that have occurred in the past week have all happened within the premises of their own home. How is stopping me from taking an honest walk, preventing a suicide?
The second issue that has come to light is the drug raids. Guilty or not, you don’t have any evidence to break down people’s doors. In fact sub inspector MP Shreedhara Nambiar admitted that despite common perception they don’t need permission to come knocking at your front door tomorrow. How does an innocent person justify himself in front of an officer of the law suffering hours of berating and false accusations?
And let us never forget the power of the lathis. These lathis are swung, thrown, flung, heaved, launched and propelled (I borrowed Stanley Pinto’s thesaurus) as a police officer wishes.
Udupi SP K. Annamalai openly apologized about this and was in fact upset that his subordinates were making such decisions. But this raises the question, what is he doing to keep his own police in check let alone the entire population of Manipal? Innocent people are being physically and verbally harassed because the clock’s minute hand has inched past 11.30 pm. Like released prisoners, a police van bursts forth from the gates of the police station to roam the street of Manipal in the name of safety. Most of us hide to ensure safety from the police themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I like SP Annamalai. He is young and intelligent and seems to be one police officer who wants to do his job right. Drug busts should happen as many lives have been lost because of this racket. But curfews and violence don’t create a progressive society, rather a fearful, regressive one. And this is just the beginning. Provide solutions that benefit the society and not ones that hurt them.
A concerned student