As dusk dawned upon the sleepy hallow of Mayur Vihar Phase 1 an assemblage of young minds dispersed to retire to their abodes. It was early on their excursion that they were stopped by a harrowing call. Opposite the dairy at Pocket 4 the incessant screams of a young girl were echoing through the neighbourhood. The youngsters paused, gazed around and traced the epicentre of screams to a House No. F37. The neighbours or rather every passer-by was inquired about the shrieks. An uncomfortable gloom shrouded the atmosphere; the screams persisted accompanied with the clatter of household items being thrown.
Faces that were jovial and merry were marred by frowns, one of them murmured, “It is the summer season, this will continue now”. We young and seemingly less productive were still decoding the continuous pangs of anguish that were resonating through the locality. The shrieks swelled incessantly so did the noise of physical violence and the discomfort in the neighbourhood.
Two possible actions could be undertaken, 1) We call the police 2) We raid the suspected flat. Option 2 was ruled out because a) Famous Five is overly clichéd b) Without the supervision of any government authority barraging into a house would result in us automatically being parties to the circumstances that ensue. The first option was implemented; the police were called on the number 011-100. Almost instantly a lady received the call, a stern yet concerned voice inquired for our reason to contact the police. The circumstances were explained to her and she was requested to assist us, we emphasised that the screams were persevering and nerve-wracking. She confirmed our location, assured that assistance would be provided and then disconnected the call.
Approximately 5 minutes later the cell phone rang with an agitated voice inquiring on the details of the location and the situation. He suggested that we investigate ourselves prior to ‘harassing’ the police. We reminded him of our duty and position and emphasised that we are waiting over here for them. The distressed caller abruptly disconnected the call without awaiting a response. Another 10 minutes later the cell phone rang again, this time with a slightly diplomatic voice, we inquired his identity, he responded, “Hawaldar Dinesh Kumar”, we were made to narrate the whole incident and fend off suggestions to investigate the matter ourselves. Dinesh Kumar reassured that they he be sending in a team when he realised that he was dealing with an adamant self-styled protagonist who bluntly asked him, “Are you coming or not?”
There had been over 25 minutes and the voices grew louder; she was blabbering and beating and being beaten up. Those on the streets would pause, contemplate and move forward, some would inquire others won’t even bother. Those who resided in the building would frown as if the pangs of anguish were a routine affair.
Our hopes in the police establishment were dwindling, it had been two very offended phone calls and 30 minutes since we had requested for police assistance. Slowly a vehicle fitted with a flashy beacon approached upon us, the policemen had arrived and were on the lookout for the one who had dared to request for their presence.
Inspector Sharma disembarked the vehicle as it came to a halt. The gloom shrouding the atmosphere was filled with exhilaration, the police vehicle meant gossip. There were three well-built officers armed with one 9 mm Browning pistol, one .303 Lee Enfield rifle and a standard police ‘Lathi’ (bamboo). One of them decided to oversee the vehicle, the other two communicated with us and ‘invited’ us along to oversee what we had reported.
The building had a slight dilapidated structure and nothing seemed out of the ordinary until we reached the top floor. Flat No. F 37 depicted an antagonistic portray to the remainder of the infrastructure. No lights were lit throughout the flat, the only room with a light source fluctuated at intervals and none answered the door unless continuously knocked.
The screams had subsided over the period of 35 to 40 minutes that the police took to arrive. The door opened, an old lady obviously apprehensive lambasted all who were awaiting her. A fair maiden peeked from the abyss of darkness that engulfed the ambiance; she must be in her twenties. Tall, slim, dark haired and dressed in casuals the young lady was definitely no less than enthralling.
Her eyes were diluted and widened, a detour to her soul and at the same time daunting and longing to devour humanity. She was visibly upset, somewhat unaware and even more defiant, judging by the tone of her voice it was presumable that she was exhausted. A soupçon of recalcitrance together with modicums of obstinacy were etched into her personality.
The old lady was aggressive and insisted on getting rid of those on her door step, the policemen (who incidentally ‘invited’ us along) shifted gears in a jiffy and tossed us away from the door step. We waited patiently down stairs and could overhear the conversation between the police and the lady wherein she averred her right to perform any activity within her property. Due to the absence of a lady police officer the policemen were helpless and could not investigate her house. They hurriedly descended the apartment frowning and cribbing his exact words were, “Aapna ghar sambhal lo phir doosare ka sambhalo, dekho kitna time waste kiya, koi fayda bhi nahi hua aane ka”. A young officer stayed back and took an official statement from the complainant while his seniors were scurrying away.
Within seconds the police force vanished from the scene and normalcy resumed to the locality, traces of inquisitive bystanders were present who were bragging their knowledge of the incident. A neighbour who was tormented by the screams softly thanked us for realising our responsibility as citizens.
Multitudes of queries veered in the conscience that night, what if a rape was occurring would the police force take so long to react? What if it was a case of domestic violence? Where are the awareness programs that we are exposed to day and night? Why did nobody else take the burden of making a simple phone call? The answers to these questions would be another sucker punch at society and the lack of morals and sense of responsibility but the one question that subjugated all others, who would have faith in a police system which treated those who seek their support with such callousness?
As the night passed away to a fresh new day, none of the youngsters talked of the incident and like other forgotten moments of existence, this too was buried under the burden of life.