Now this boomeranged. Shobhaa De, who defines herself as a ‘journalist, columnist, social commentator, opinion-shaper and author of 18 books’ as per her Twitter bio, tried to shape an opinion here, even if it intended to begin a series light-hearted conversation or a ‘pun-intended corollary’ or a simple ‘absent-minded’ attempt to draw a humorous marker.

But it didn’t go down well. The pun was on her and it was so direct and open, unlike ‘her intended pun’, that she was forced to backtrack and had to come forward to issue clarification that she ‘didn’t intend to offend anyone’. But then, in the style of ‘old habits don’t go’, she ended up giving advice to the Madhya Pradesh Police to ‘consult a dietician if indeed the image of the overweight policeman was authentic’.

We all saw what the Mumbai Police response did here. Let’s see how the Madhya Pradesh Police responds, if at all it goes to respond.

It was began yesterday. Mumbaikars were voting for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls and as happens, the security apparatus of the city was geared up to meet the occasion with heavy police deployment. The election process went on smoothly and the day thankfully passed without any incident.

But Shobhaa De, the famed but controversial socialite of Mumbai social circles, known for especially her controversial tweets these days, thought to take a different take on this heavy police deployment. She tweeted ‘heavy police bandobast in Mumbai today!’ with an old photograph of an overweight policeman thrust somehow in a plastic chair. The photograph is a Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp favourite and has done rounds and rounds of social media circulation.

Now it was for Shobaa De only to clarify what was her intention behind tweeting her mind with photograph but the Mumbai Police certainly did not like it, ‘even if there was an intended pun in Shobhaa De’s tweet’

The Mumbai Police tweeted to express its displeasure, tagging Shobhaa De and her tweet, and pinned it as well. It said it too loved jokes but certainly not the ones in bad taste, like this one by Shobhaa De. And it certainly expected a better corollary from a responsible citizen like Shobhaa De.

After this Mumbai Police tweet, now the joke was on Shobhaa De. Twitterati soon began slamming Shobhaa De and it is still continued unabated.

And we can say the Janata consensus can be summed in comedian Suresh Menon’s response. Responding to the Mumbai Police tweet, he wrote, “well said Mumbai Police, but please forgive Shobha aunty. It’s called attempted humour cum hallucinations as age sets in.”

Right or wrong, Shobhaa De has been in multiple controversies with her tweets. She was slammed for Rio selfie tweet where she mocked the Indian contingent at Rio Olympics last August, “Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity.”

She had objection on prime minister Narendra Modi being called a rockstar for his speech to the Indian Diaspora at Dubai Cricket Stadium for which she was widely panned, “Can we please stop referring to India’s Prime Minister as a ‘Rockstar’!!!! Hello!Dubai. He isn’t from Bollywood!”

Or for instance, her ‘beef and compulsory Marathi films screening’ tweet targeting Devendra Fadnavis, “Devendra ‘Diktatwala’ Fadnavis is at it again!!!From beef to movies. This is not the Maharashtra we all love! Nako!Nako! Yeh sab roko!” for which she got privilege notice from the Maharashtra Legislature.



We were rightly outraged on the Mumbai incident where cops in a police station were seen badly thrashing a couple – the girl and boy who were let off later without any charge or penal action.

In fact, we need to be sensitive enough to feel outraged on every such incident and we need to express it.

The only thing that it seldom happens.

And it answers why people in India fear police. Why they avoid going to police as far as they can – approaching the ‘keepers of the law’ only in extreme cases.

And if it is so, it is for a reason that is now ingrained in our day to day lives.

Just walk out of metro cities or some big cities with big media concentration, and it is a hinterland all around where mention of police instils as much fear (or indifference) in personal live as intrusion by other undesired elements.

The overall image of a policeman has become that of a corrupt government official who is grossly insensitive to human pain and emotion, who can easily break law in the name of maintaining law, who can extort money in the name of weeding out problems and would go to any extent if he is not paid his demanded sum, who, by all possibilities, will assault his subjects, especially if they are from the weaker sections – a man who sees his personal interests and gains first.

Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, there are many good policemen. But they are in minority.

I have seen three decades of my life and I have grown up hearing tales of police stations and police beats on sale – that this particular beat or police station was lucrative for under-the-table money or convenience fee (or extortion fee) it generated every day – that police used to kill criminals and at times innocent people in fake encounter cases – that police raids on habitual bootleggers and offenders usually used to happen whenever police did not receive its share.

Such ‘experiential stories’ are galore – not from any particular part of India – but from across the country – especially in India outside its metro cities – giving rise to ‘experiential observations’ like ‘a gentleman should keep away from police, except in extreme cases, the events that everyone prays he or she should not come across’.

Now, what happened in this Andheri Police Station case of Mumbai. Some policemen, in the full glare of their uniform, thrashed a boy and a girl whom they allege were drunk and quarrelling. The incident was caught on camera and the video clip went viral. And it was not the first time. We regularly come across such incidents and video clips of police atrocities going viral.

But what about incidents of police atrocity outside metro India or its significant urban clusters?

That generic perception of police, as written above, is still very strong with no signs of letdown. And here we need to keep this in mind that the police officials who serve in metro cities, have experience of serving in other cities as well, as transfers are routine. So, a police official may be transferred to a metro city but what about his mindset? He still has that mindset that makes him the master of his subjects – the Indians staying in other parts of the country.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –