OPINION

Is Karnataka Turning into a Police State?

February 03, 2009
Roshan Krishnan

Bangalore Mirror had an article today on cops busting a party at the Dell office off Koramangala.Here's an excerpt from the article:

" They [the cops] landed at the office and demanded to be let in, but the security guards refused. “The police said they were acting on a complaint from a resident who could not sleep peacefully because of the noise in the party. We told the police that there are no residences in the area, but they were not ready to listen,” another Dell employee present at the party said.

An argument broke out between the police and the guards. After some time, the police forced their way in and seized the audio systems. A few security personnel were taken to the Airport Police Station for questioning. Though no techie was arrested, the employees were warned against holding late night parties "

If this isn't police high handedness, then I don't know what is! I agree that the music shouldn't be so loud that it disturbs the residents around. All that the cops needed to do on receiving such a complaint would have been to send a couple of constable and ask the employees to tone it down a bit. Confiscating the audio system and detaining the security personnel seemed uncalled for and smacks of police high handedness.

As soon as I read this article a couple of thoughts came to me. First of course was, are the cops entitled to do this? After all, the party was in a private property, not a public place. Can they barge in based on a complaint by someone and detain a few people and confiscate property? Second, shouldn't there be some laws in place governing such police acts? I'm no expert, but there must be rules laid down on how cops need to act in such situations. Otherwise it's like we are in a police state where cops can barge in to a private property anytime and confiscate property and arrest people.

I'd really like some legal expert to clarify this. And I hope he or she tells me that it's illegal for cops to do what they did at Dell. Otherwise it would mean that cops can enter any private property at their whims and fancy. I shudder to think what that would mean for ordinary citizens like me. Cops can come barging in my front door any day and confiscate my audio system because they received some complaint from someone. They could arrest me because I had a few friends over on the weekend and we played music past 11.30!!

Where are heading as a state? First the government restricts night life past 11.30. Instead of better policing, cops shut the city down by 11.30 and hope no crime takes place past that time. Then they ban dancing at pubs. They talk about banning pubs altogether now as that's where all the crime in the city happens apparently! Then they get into private property, the DELL office, to shut down a private party. That's important - to SHUTDOWN the party! Not ask the folks there to mellow their music down, but to shut it down and to warn them against late night partying! And next, it could be your home or mine. They could come in asking me not to drink past 11.30 or play music past 11 PM.

Where will this stop? For how much longer do we put up with this? Would we allow the state to dictate what we do inside our homes? Why were the techies warned against partying late night in private property? What business does the state have interfering with such high handedness in matters inside a private property, specially when there wasn't any henious crime or illegalities happening - except maybe for loud music? I'd really want to know if this is legal in India? Do the cops have such powers? Knowing how our police force is currently, I really hope to God that they do not have such powers!

Karnataka is slowly turning into a police state. One by one our freedoms are being restricted. We choose to remain quiet! I don't think people have realized that this will have dangerous consequences for all. We need to do something about such intrusive and unacceptable policing! By the way, I have music playing in my room as I write this. It's past 12.30 now and I'm hoping I don't hear a knock on the door now!

A techie interested in current affairs, politics and very much in love with my country. And my blogs will definitely reflect this.
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#1
Sumanth
February 3, 2009
02:07 PM

"Do the cops have such powers?"

Wow!! Did not you know all that?

Did not you read about police extorting millions or jailing innocents?

Did not you know that Mir Arif Ali, the Koramangala inspector had a net worth of 10 crores?

Indian police are the worst terrorists and extortionists in the world. Why single out Bangalore?

It is time to get happy, when a police get killed due to any reason.

In Orissa, police put a 5-year old girl in jail for 50 days.

Today, in UP, two policemen abuse a 6-year old girl.

Yet, there are fools who want to empower police.

#2
ajay
February 3, 2009
02:15 PM

I wonder how many of these party kids voted in the recent Karnataka elections. If the yuppie partying techie did not vote, then he/she has no right in complaining about the prevailing BJP 'police state'.

FYI: BJP won huge victories in 'progressive' urban regions of Bangalore.

#3
Sea
February 4, 2009
01:07 AM

ajay, does it really matter whether the yuppie kids voted or not? Who will you vote for when you trust none of the politicAL parties?

And yes karnataka is going to the dogs, it's turning into the bihar of south india. we have stopped talking about the bad infrastructure, gotten used to it ! what's alarming is the rudeness/indiffernce everywhere be it from the bus conductors/auto drivers/shop owners/Govt officials et al.

The city pretty much closes down by 10-30 to 11 pm. So you cant think of seeing off a friend/relative at the railway stn around that time and come back home if you don't have your own vehicle. You will sleep hungry if you haven't had food till then and you don't cook yourself.

Bangalore has now turned into an IT village purely surviving on the image it managed to create a decade ago but lost it all in a matter of a few years.

#4
Lexiss
February 4, 2009
05:34 AM


Sometimes I feel India would have been better if the British had continued to rule till now.

#5
Anon
February 4, 2009
06:15 AM

India turned into a police state long long ago.

You are worried about police taking away your audio system?

Police entering private property, knocking at your door at ungodly hours, and whisking you away, along with your entire family including children and aged (sometimes sick) parents, illegally detaining you, arresting you, and putting you in jail JUST BASED ON A COMPLAINT of a woman is very much the protocol ALL OVER India.

Welcome to my world!

Whether or not police are right or even authorized to do this is a different matter, but most citizens are ignorantly supportive of police high-handedness unless they have experienced it themselves.

#6
ajay
February 4, 2009
12:38 PM

@Sea, did you vote? My point is that if people do not exercise the only right they have to change the system, they cannot complain.
I agree that most politicians may not be worthy of holding office. But if people turn more active during elections, political parties have to take notice.
Lok Paritan is a new age political party that promises clean candidates. They did contest in Karnataka but got a tepid response. I bet the techies were partying during elections

"People get the government they deserve"

#7
kerty
February 4, 2009
03:14 PM

Ajay

"if people do not exercise the only right they have to change the system, they cannot complain."

People do not exercise their right to vote because it is not really a right but a rubber stamp. People do not have a right to reject the choices imposes on to them. A truly democratic system would allow people to reject 'all of the above' choices offered on the ballot and election results would not be valid until an elected person wins the majority of eligible voters - failing which, there have to be re-election until a candidate is able to win the majority of eligible voters - if nobody wins it, than the seat must remain vacant, forcing political parties to put up candidates who can appeal to the masses rather than narrow interests. Majority from Middle-class and youth do not bother to vote because they know their votes do not matter, they would get offset by uneducated and bribed voters, their candidates seldom win, elections seldom address their issues, system only benefits politicians and ideologies. Only people who reject such system have right to complain. Rest are just stooges of corrupt system.

#8
ajay
February 4, 2009
10:36 PM

Kerty, too bad India's election system is not 'truly democratic' enough for you. Not voting because the system is not 'good enough' is a lame excuse for inaction.

#9
Kerty
February 4, 2009
11:31 PM

Ajay

"Not voting because the system is not 'good enough' is a lame excuse for inaction. "

Its not an excuse or inaction. It is a serious disenfranchisement. Its an indictment of the flawed system. People are left with no option but reject being used for rubber stamping the mandates for immoral goons and bankrupt ideologies in the name of people. Only vested interests and agenda agitate and ride on its rigged political process, while average folks could care a less and try to stay clear. People and country get by in spite of the system, not because of it. Being ruled by aliens and alien systems for so long, surviving in spite of hostile systems has become part of Indian genes, a way of life for Indians.

#10
Roshan
URL
February 9, 2009
04:25 AM

Well, I was bang on in my analysis! Bangalore cops have started busting home parties as well!!

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=1&contentid=2009020920090209002627834c9ade0d0&sectxslt=

If there's a lawyer here, could you tell me if this is allowed? Can cops barge into my place, search my home and detain me in the lock up for playing music past 11 PM in my home? Is it legal? What are my rights as a citizen? And what should people do when something like this happens to them?

#11
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 9, 2009
04:52 AM

Roshan, last year I had to suffer noise pollution from the nearby temple (which was barely four houses down) that started its festivities from 4 in the morning and continued till eleven in the night.

I had no right to register a complaint with the cops since they had the right to drive me crazy with their damn loud speakers through the day and half the night.

I was relieved I could sleep at least from eleven to four thirty without any noise pollution or else I would have gone bat shit crazy.

The law is the law. After eleven no loud music.

#12
Deepti Lamba
February 9, 2009
04:57 AM

And btw this went on for over a month!

#13
Roshan
URL
February 9, 2009
05:47 AM

@ Deepti, i agree that the law must be same for everyone. I've had the temple problem near my old place too :)

But in this particular case, the neighbors claim that the music wasn't loud. Even if it were, the cops should just ask you to lower the volume or maybe shut the music down.

My problem is with the fact that they searched the house and even detained the people overnight in the lock up. That sounds scary! I don't want cops barging in my home on the slightest provocation! I'm sure there must be laws in place against such acts by the cops. Otherwise it's a very scary proposition!

#14
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 9, 2009
06:05 AM

Roshan, like you said generally cops request people to lower the volume. When I read the newspaper it seemed as if there was bad blood between the cops and those guys. If those folks feel they are being deliberately targeted they should register a complaint against the cops and also hire a good lawyer.

And of course in a country like India having connections works all the more in your favor.

#15
Roshan
URL
February 9, 2009
06:24 AM

Which is kinda sad really. Unless you have 'connections' or enough money to pay people off, getting justice seems like a tough road to travel!

#16
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 9, 2009
10:35 AM

Roshan, here is a Delhi joke- two cars have an accident, the guys get out and start fighting. They both ask each other- Do you know who I am?

They tell each other their unheard of names, then they thrust they chest out and say to each other- Do you know who I know?

They tell each other the names of the people they know and suddenly the tension evaporates.

They grin and in the middle of the traffic jam caused by their cars they start talking about how each of them knows the others connection;)

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