Getting a Handle on Things

That, ladies and gents, is a door handle. It belongs on a door; specifically, the bathroom door. In the above picture, the door handle is on the counter next to the sink. This is where it should be:

That is the door to the bathroom and, as the perspective might have given away, I’m on the wrong side of a door whose handle is next to a sink. This wouldn’t be too serious if there was anyone else in my apartment who could open the door from the other side, which, I assume, still has a handle attached to it. However, there isn’t anyone. At which point, I do the only thing I can: take pictures, Instagram them, and surf the net on my phone. If one has to be locked in a bathroom, one may as well spend that time fruitfully. Better than listening to pigeons copulate and that’s hard to ignore. Not only are they bloody loud, they’re chucking fruit around leading to a bit of jamun splattering purple on my bathroom window. Methinks the pigeons have been reading my Mills & Boons. I wouldn’t have minded reading one of those right now, as I kill time waiting for my maid to show up (if she’s forgotten her keys, then I’m really screwed). However, I’m among the few people I know who feels icky about books in bathrooms. Aside from the occasional bit of clothing, what is in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. Mills & Boons can’t be imprisoned in this way so no I have nothing to do but look at newspapers on my phone.

Except now, my blood pressure is shooting up because, with the unerring instinct of a masochist, I clicked on an article about the infamous ACP Dhoble. This was not a good idea. I can’t even pace in here. Even for me, two and a half steps don’t constitute pacing.

So for those who aren’t clued in on the joys of living in Mumbai, the city’s latest moral guardian is one Vasant Dhoble. He’s a cop who carries a hockey stick and isn’t afraid to use it. This would be funny if he hadn’t actually beaten the crap out of people using his hockey stick. The manager of Amar Juice Centre (in Khar) is one of them.  In the past, Dhoble’s skills with the hockey stick (and other accessories, no doubt) have led to people in his custody dying. In case you thought he’s the Bruce Willis of Mumbai Police, this man also managed to lose 12 files on the gangster and suspect terror-plot financier Dawood Ibrahim. Basically, Dhoble isn’t someone who’s going to need either bribes or bodyguards any time soon, insha’Dawood. His latest assignment is heading up the Social Service Branch of Mumbai Police. The fact that it’s acronym is SS has not escaped anyone. Social service is, apparently, raiding bars and restaurants for not adhering to the laws. Those in these establishments are hauled to the police station and detention centres. The owners are made to pay fines. Now, the problem is that the laws are idiotic and outdated. Someone was telling me that one of the laws governing bars and discos stipulates there can only be 10 couples in the premises. Unsurprisingly, virtually every restaurant and bar in Mumbai violates one or more laws. Add to that Dhoble’s understanding of modern society — he deduced from ladies’ night schemes of women getting free drinks that all the women at a bar on such a night are prostitutes. Naturally — and you have the kind of mind-numbing idiocy that manages to infuriate even someone like me who barely goes out.

On June 5, Dhoble raided a bar in Andheri. It’s called Masala Curry. Masala Curry had a ladies’ night, which meant men paid Rs. 3,000 and women got in free.

We will ignore my shock at the fact that anyone pays Rs. 3,000 to simply enter an establishment. That too in Andheri. Moving on.

So yes, the entry fee for men is Rs. 3,000 but on this particular night, women could come in for free. Which means all the women are prostitutes. Obviously. Eleven “prostitutes” were hauled off to a detention centre by Dhoble, who said he had “rescued” these blighted ladies. Two of them, Anamika Rai and Bindiya Handa, decided to take Dhoble to court. You’d think that this would be the perfect way to box Dhoble’s ears. Instead, two days ago, Bombay High Court said that since there was a case registered in the magistrate court, it would not interfere. Also, Mumbai Police was just following the law.

The petitioners’ advocate Anand Jhondale argued that the fundamental rights of the sisters were infringed upon by the police and claimed that it was an illegal detention because it was only suspicion on the basis of which they were detained and sent to the preventive home, without the magistrate inquiry into the suspicions and raids conducted.

The bench rejected this claim saying, “Rescuing you and producing before the magistrate is in accord with the provisions of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA).”

(From DNA)

What’s the evidence that the police has of these two women being prostitutes? The police has said that it had learnt that there were messages being circulated that there were 11 women available for any man who may be interested. Who sent these messages? How did the police intercept them? This is the easiest thing to cook up, but it’s enough to keep these two women from being released.

Yesterday, 9 out of 11 women were released. Hallelujah. But read this:

“During inquiry, these girls did not disclose true and complete facts about themselves and their occupation, and some even about their families. But it appears that almost all of them wish to get good money and opportunity of work in films or serials. But none of them confirmed presence of any director or producer,” Metropolitan Magistrate Swarnita B Mahale said.

The order said it was “not a birthday party” and that Mohan Tolani, who organised the party, used to call most of the women for parties.

“It appears that most of them [victims] are acquainted with each other as they regularly attend the parties of Tolani. No one was able to tell about the specific occasion for the party on the day of the incident,” the order stated adding that considering the background of the victims, they did not have any reason to be acquainted with the accused.

“Most of the victims said Tolani regularly calls them for parties. They went for parties because he told them that producers and directors are coming and he will introduce the victims to them,” the order said.

The court noted that relatives of the women took their responsibility; thus they did not need the shelter home anymore. “Necessary advice and admonition is given to all the victims not to visit any controversial places. They are also advised to adopt some decent mode of earning for their livelihood,” the order said.

The relatives of those released said they were relieved to have them back. “I will take care that she does not attend such dubious parties from now on,” a relative of a woman told The Hindu.

(From The Hindu)

The girls? Really? You want to call grown women “girls”?

They didn’t disclose “complete facts about themselves and their occupation”. Obviously. Because of the kind of harassment that is associated with government bodies, most people in India are cagey about facts. The laws are antiquated enough to make the most commonplace thing appear to be illegal. Most importantly, most of us don’t know what the laws are so we’ve no idea if what we’re doing is illegal. Consequently, absolutely no one provides complete facts, particularly to authorities. Particularly to authorities that come in wielding hockey sticks. Also, what is meant by “complete facts”? Where’s the proof that the police was paying attention or would even understand complete facts if they were offered? We’re talking about cops who  think free entry equals prostitution.

These women’s crime is that they want to work in serials? That makes them dubious? And because there was no director or producer, a bunch of aspiring actresses hanging out at a bar must mean they’re looking to be paid to have sex with someone? Even if we assume that acting is sinful, let’s not forget the fact that one of the women who was sent to the correctional home that supposedly cures women of prostitution is the mother of an autistic child. She wants to work in serials? Seriously?

And a bar is a “controversial place”? Well, if cops wouldn’t come in and accuse random women of being whores, it would be a darn sight less controversial. And what the hell is that bit about the court advising the women to “adopt some decent mode of earning for their livelihood”? Two of the women who were detained (the ones who have sued Dhoble) are housewives. Not that this means that they can’t be prostitutes or that prostitution is indecent. In a country where the entire system is made up of people who bend over backwards for money, where the hell does anyone get off being snooty about prostitution is beyond me. But the point is, the court decided that because these people were at a party, they’re in need of a “decent” job?

Anamika Rai and Bindiya Handa are married. Their father works in the Canadian Embassy. Their husbands are businessmen who are apparently quite successful. If this demographic is being rogered in this manner by the police and the judiciary, then imagine what happens to the poor people who don’t have the resources to file cases and whose harassment doesn’t make it to the front page because it’s just so de rigeur?

I wonder who the 2 women who haven’t been released are and what logic has been offered to keep them in custody. What’s the bet they’re single?

I’m suddenly so grateful for being locked in a bathroom and not having to negotiate the real world where the judiciary and the resident associations of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz see Dhoble’s actions and attitudes as fair.

 

5 thoughts on “Getting a Handle on Things

    • It wasn’t Dubai, was it? I think it was the Andamans or something like that. Anyway, the location is irrelevant. Yes, it’s marginally better but really, it’s deeply tragic that this is an example of “better”. Sheesh.

  1. The two sisters were among 11 women picked up by the police in a raid led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble from a suburban restaurant ‘Masala Curry’ on June 5, on suspicion of being involved in prostitution. The girls were produced before a magistrate’s court which sent them to a remand home.

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