A day in the life of: A Sub-Inspector, 42, posted at Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna
As he stands there impassively, a tirade of curses and insults rains down on him. Someone tries to spit on him, he moves away an inch. A week ago, he could have imagined himself on the other side of the police barricades. After today, he doubts it.
A sub-inspector with the Delhi Police, the 42-year-old has been in the force for over two decades. Usually, he’s posted at a government hospital in south Delhi. On January 20 morning, he was rushed to central Delhi’s Rail Bhavan roundabout, to be on duty as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the unusual move of sitting on a dharna.
Initially, the S-I says, he was quite happy. “I had voted for him, but I had never seen him, except on television. I knew that this protest was against police, but some of the things that the Aam Aadmi Party is talking about — corruption in police, lacklustre performance of some officers — these are true and need to be rectified,” he says.
After 24 hours on ‘Kejriwal duty’, however, the policeman is a disillusioned man. If the insults being flung at him with increasing vehemence leave him saddened, that they are clichés hurts him more. Someone calls him a ‘dalaal of the Congress’, another says he has sold his soul for a few rupees.
A police officer needs to have a thick skin, he knows. But standing there on January 21 — braving the intermittent rain, the cold and the angry protesters, and guarding a man who has made it known he thinks little of policemen like him or the service they provide him — he asks, shouldn’t a CM too know better?
“Some of the things Kejriwal has been saying are very stupid. He’s the CM and it’s important that he doesn’t say something that will make the crowd angrier. But by denouncing police and the media in such unclear terms, he’s setting things up for a violent episode,” the S-I says.
This is only a few hours before clashes between the police and AAP supporters turn violent. When the first stone is flung in his direction, he stands up angrily, only to sit down abruptly, remembering the orders given to the police not to react. Senior officers have told the policemen to ensure that no harm comes to any of the protesters, even as they are turned away from the site of Kejriwal’s dharna. “In other words, we have been asked not to touch anyone — even if we are pelted with stones,” he says, rubbing the stubble that continued…