September 10th, 2015
via - Mitul Verma's Profile
On Friday the 28th of August at around 10 pm, I was at the IFFCO Chowk metro station, on my way to a friend’s place. As I was walking to the station, I noticed a long line of people waiting to get through security check. The line started at the security gate, went down the entire length of the station, down the stairs, looped around a tree on the sidewalk, and finished on the road somewhere under the station. I approached the line annoyed; I didn’t want to deal with this shit. I wasn’t even sure if this was the security check line or the line to buy tokens. I didn’t need to buy a token so I wanted to find out which line this was before wasting any time in the wrong line. I heard a shout that seemed to answer my question. Two men, one armed with a large staff, were angrily yelling: “ये टोकन की लाईन है! जिनके पास कार्ड है, वो दूसरे गेट से जाएँ!” (This is the token line! Those who have a card, go to the other gate!) These men were dressed in some kind of army uniform so I’m guessing they were CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) guards.
People, confused by the crowd and commotion, came up to ask the guards which line it was. The one with the staff was getting steadily angrier and more violent with his responses until he grabbed one of his enquirer’s by the collar, a poor young man, and slapped him. The other guard came running and together, they pushed the man through the line and on to the service lane. He fell to the ground and the guards started to kick him. At one point, he tried to get up but was struck by the staff, and fell again. The guards were repeatedly slapping, punching, kicking, and striking him with the staff. After five to seven minutes of beating him, they pulled him up to his feet and back through the line. The one with the staff addressed the people waiting in line like an audience, punctuating his speech with punches and slaps:
“ये टोकन की लाईन है!” (This is the token line!) *smack* “जिनके पास कार्ड है,” (Those who have a card) *smack* “वो दूसरे गेट से जाएँ!” (go to the other gate!) *smack* “**** अब समझ आई?” (Now do you understand, ****?)
Nobody said a word. I was frozen as well. The guards pushed the man back through the line and continued their yelling, exercising the dominance they had just established.
The man walked to the side. He had fire in his eyes, the same fire that he did during the onslaught. Never wavering, staying strong, defiant, and angry throughout the abuse. Alone, yet courageous. Later, he walked up to the guard with the staff and loudly asked his name. The guard ignored him.
The guards, after their first violent attack, started to freely physically abuse anyone who came up to them to ask questions. The guard without the staff grabbed a young, more privileged looking man by the head and struck him. He then violently pulled him into the station and they disappeared from view.
Here are some things I learned and questions I have:
1. Always take a video; don’t bother with aiming and focusing for photos (all my pictures are blurry and unfocused).
2. I am so soft. I almost started crying, being just a bystander. The young man, the victim, was fearless.
3. Next time, should I personally defend and risk getting attacked myself? What is the best way that one should respond in such a situation?
4. Relatedly, how does one mobilize the crowd in such a situation? The guards could have been easily overwhelmed by the intently-watching crowd, but no one was willing to say something against the injustice. One idea is to ask other bystanders whether they agree with what is happening in front of them. If people are forced to speak out loud, they automatically become involved.
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