The young man on seat number 10 was busy working on his iPad. To me, it seemed that this will be one more eventless journey in Shivneri* back to Pune after a VC meeting in Bombay. When we passed Chambor, I heard the iPad guy scream.
Ipad Guy ( IG) : Can you please let me take my seat ?
Drunk man(DM) (retorts) – “I am not going to get up from my seat, I sat here after asking the conductor, do whatever you want “.
IG : Sir, I had booked this seat and on my ticket the seat number is mentioned “
DM : “I don’t care whats printed, and whats not, what I know is that now I have this seat , you go find your self whatever you can find to rest your bum.
A lady just behind the iPad guy wanted to protest and told the drunk guy to vacate the seat but to no avail.
IG( irritated ): Driver! Can you check this guy ? He is not getting up from my seat. Can you please ask him to move ?
The driver just ignored his pleas and kept his gaze on the road. The drivers, I learned are on contract and lesser the journey time, the better for him . Defeated, the iPad guy resigned to the rear most seat in the bus. Couple of guys murmured, cribbed but none came to the support of the iPad guy. My wife asked me why no body in the bus is human enough to help this iPad guy or stand against unjust behavior? I said – “We do not know who has the real claim to the seat and possibly cant take someone else’s fight unless he insists.”
Minutes passed and the drunk guy reclined his chair back. His hand was on the headrest of the seat. He discovered that there was hand of a lady there. The middle aged lady in white kurta feeling the unwanted touch asked the drunk to take his hand back.
The drunk : Its my seat and my headrest, I will keep it here.
The lady : This bus brakes hard , I need to put my hands here to rest , Please keep your hand forward.
The drunk ( Now more obstinate ) started putting his hand behind more audaciously and was touching lady’s hands more often. The lady had taken out a pen from her purse and was needling his hand every time he was touching her.
The lady : Haath aagey kar ….. haraamkhor ( Put your hands forward, you illegitimate predator).
The drunk : Chup kar MAAAAADARC…D ( Shut up mother fucker )..
Hearing the incestual abuse on lady, pandemonium reigned in the bus.. There were large howls of Aiyyyyy…, Aiyeee…, and rants ruled. Yet no one was willing to do anything. One guy with a white scarf on his head started sermonizing the drunk in Marathi. The Drunk was adamant that he was right in abusing the lady and was trying to extoll how grave calling him “Haraam Khor” was At this stage, my anger crossed the threshold , I went straight to seat number 10 and confronted the drunk.
I : How can you misbehave, harass and abuse a lady in public place? Do you have some sense of behavior ?
The drunk : Aiyyyyee ….Kyaa kar lega ? ( What is it that you can do.?)
My fists clenched, the fingers coiled and before I could realize, the first punch hit the back side of his head like a lightening. He screamed and thought of hitting me back but before he could retaliate, the next punch was on his left cheek. He wanted to give a fight but realizing his drunk state, and the impact of blows he thought it best to not hit me back.
He resigned but still kept sitting on that seat number 10. Most of the passengers were now rallying behind me. Some suggested, that I just throw him out. A short lady in brown red kurta suggested beating him with Chappals till he lost his consciousness. I however reclaimed my calm and was not hitting him any more. The drunk was silent now. I came back to my seat. My wife got up said – ” We need to help this iPad guy get his seat“.
She went to the driver and along with some passengers requested driving the bus to a police station. The driver tried to avoid going to a police station but on severe insistence with many co passengers finally drove to a police station near Vashi station. 8 or 10 of us got down. We spoke to the police. To our chagrin we again saw a govt babu behaviour from Police. The police men said – “Hum traffic police hain.. Agar usne ticket liya hai toh hum kuchh nahi kar sakte. Go to crime police chowki.( We are traffic police and if the drunk has taken a ticket, there is nothing we can do , go contact the crime police ” )
I got exasperated , I went to the control room and asked the Police guys to act. To this one of them said- “We will have to think who can go and handle this “. I was now frustrated with it. I screamed – “If you cant handle a public nuisance with urgency, how will I have any trust that you can handle any other crime against women? I have myself been a class1 govt officer and I know how to handle this. In military campuses if we ever saw a person doing this, we would give an instant natural justice. DO you want me to do this here ? Call your SP , I want to talk to him “
At this , the police got activated. 5 of the policemen went inside the bus. They grabbed the drunk by his collar and pulled him out of the bus. They were just about to administer natural justice to him that he folded both his hands, cried for mercy and agreed to spend the remaining portion of the journey sitting at the back. He left the seat #10. The iPad guy got his legitimate seat and the remaining part of the journey was eventless. We came back home in 2 am in the night and I did have some deeper thoughts.
Ruminations : Think of the bus as a co operative. The drunken-ness in society is not always alcohol but can be post, position and power. When people are drunk and intoxicated, they try to usurp the seat which legally belongs to somebody else. These guys snatch the seat/position in their libidinous state of erections for power and position. They often want to get glued, get wedded to SEATS and wont leave it unless kicked HARD in their….. No matter how untenable their position becomes, they wont just give up. Nice guys often surrender their SEATS to nuisance to avoid uncomfortable exchanges. Arrogance of the drunk there after become more rampant. In an open display of audacity, they assume that all other co passengers are weird, dumb and impotent. They also harass some co passengers to the hilt. While majority of the members remain apathetic silent spectators and watch the decay, there are handful with conscience, who make some sounds. No body wants to mess with a drunken passenger. If there is some real blessing, a passenger may stand up and give the drunk some good treatment before he vacates his Gaddi. This brings some order. This too mostly happens when the drunk is not travelling with his gang of stooges. Now try to do some realization. Who you are ?
The ipad guy ? //Accept injustice
The lady who gets harassed? // The common citizen who blows whistle
The driver who wants to just do his job? // The state machinery
The police who says – “Its not my job ? ” // The upholders of law, the registrars, and other govt officials
The passengers who howl? // The cribbers who have some conscience but wont go beyond verbal criticism and do any action
The passengers who will keep silent ? // Those fearful chickens who think its not my problem
The passengers who will do something? // Activists
The timid passenger who will pump up the confronter – “Aap aage badho, hum aapke saath hai ? ( You take the fight , we are with you ) or the
The person who confronts ? // The protagonist who sometimes breaks rules to ensure that faith in humanity is retained.
For understanding the societal perspective you can read this : http://arunpurohit.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/india-is-doomed-and-we-need-military-grade-governance/