Earlier today (30/08/2017) I had gone to the bank to get a cheque cashed. As I was standing in line, I was joined by a colourful teenager who came up and stood right behind me. He looked rather uncomfortable, shifting about his place. The only thought I had was that even this guy is uncomfortable at the sight of long lines and understaffed counters. For some reason, he awkwardly left and went on to stand near the ladies line, then he completely disappeared. To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention up until that point.

A couple of minutes later, the boy emerged again with a couple of security guards following. The guards led him to a closed counter and asked him to tell his account number to the person behind the desk. He was trembling in fear, stuttering and mouthing unintelligibly. They gave him a piece of paper to write his name and account number on. At this point, I noticed a 500 note in his hand and realized what was going on. He wrote something on the paper and gave it to the counter guy. After verification, he said that the account number is invalid. Upon hearing this, the six foot tall security guard smacked the head of the five foot four boy which then hit the glass counter and even it shivered and vibrated upon impact. God damn it was hilarious. I am laughing while writing this. Probably this has got something to do with me finding violence very funny. (Yeah I know I am a twisted weirdo) So anyway they start dragging the guy away when his partner in crime shows up. Now this guy, mind you, didn’t look like a street pickpocket. He looked well fed (read fat), wider than me even. They brought him to the counter too and asked him to write his account number. With his voice trembling, he said “Yaad nahi hai” (I don’t remember). Again there was a big smack on the head and the security guard said, “To phir bank me kyo aye ho” (Then why have you come to the bank) After this they dragged them both outside and did God knows what to them.

This encounter opened a can of worms for me, so to speak. We often talk about the issue of the safety of women in our country, which is justified, but the problem of such unscrupulous entities affects each and every member of the society. The biggest concern is that such incidents of pickpocketing and petty thievery are often not reported. Even in the thievery of physically larger items, the police service is very lax at action. Just think if the security guards had not caught these thugs at that instant and they had gotten away, was there any way to catch them?

I remember back on the morning of 5th of November 2010. It was still early, 7:30 and it was the day of Deepavali. My father had gone to the temple as is his daily routine on our family motorcycle. Normally, he used to come back within 15-20 minutes but when it was well over half an hour, we started to worrying. Finally he showed up, on foot, showing us the key to the bike and saying that someone stole it after breaking the locks. We went ahead and filed a police complaint. They did an obligatory “search” in the entire region and came up empty handed. It was very depressing. I loved that bike. I still miss riding it. Anyhow, we filed an insurance claim and even there the insurance agent wasn’t really one of the ethical types. He registered our claim with the headquarters, got the payment and made himself scarce so as to avoid giving us the money. This time around, we took up the “search” operation and pinned the SOB down and recovered the money.

When I was in college, the most frequent reason for someone to get a new mobile phone was that the previous one was stolen. The most common place where said phones were stolen was public transport and mind you this was in one of the allegedly more developed cities of the country. Thankfully, I had a motorcycle for conveyance and didn’t travel in buses much, otherwise I’m sure I would have lost a couple more phones than I already did (due to unrelated reasons).

All in all, as far as larceny is concerned, there are laws in our country but rarely is there justice. If it is a bigger crime with more evidence, there still is a glimmer of hope that justice will be served but such is not the case with petty crimes. Even when these criminals are caught, it is almost too easy for them to bribe their way out of a lawsuit. There must be a change in the mentality of the people of the country if we are to evolve past small but significant things like these. Think how bad an impression it would make on a foreigner tourist whose pocket is picked. Will they come back to India after such? Definitely not. Hence, for a better public image of our country, people, thieves or not, please change, please be more aware and please raise your voice when you see a crime happening, please.