If you want people on your side, you need to win their hearts and minds. That advice sounds simple enough. Unless, that is, you’re a member of the Uttar Pradesh Police Department in northern India. Shocking and bizarre accounts from citizens trying to report crimes have recently started to fill Indian media outlets.
One of the strangest incidents involves a 50-year-old cobbler, named Sittu. Having discovered that his mobile phone had been stolen, the man went to the police station in the Muzaffarnagar district. As part of the process to report his missing property, Sittu was forced to talk with the reader, or record keeper of the station. This reader, named Rohtash, began compiling biographical information about Sittu. Upon learning the man’s profession, Rohtash informed Sittu that the police would only process his claim after he shined all of their shoes. Stunned, Sittu began polishing eight pairs of shoes. Another person present at the police station recorded the weird scene. Sittu finished his work an hour later and Rohtash submitted the claim of the missing phone.
The same police station has drawn the ire of other residents after a 75-year-old woman went to report that she had been tortured. Once again, Rohtash was staffing the desk at the Charthawal Police Station. As the woman, Sharifan, began describing the constant physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepson and daughter-in-law, Rohtash cut her off. He said that she had no right to file a report, but he would help her with some free advice. He advised Sharifan that if she wanted to improve her life, she needed to get married. This advice elicited laughter from his fellow officers, while the 75-year-old beggar cursed them all.
In the end, both Sharifan and Sittu are the ones laughing. As news reports of their experiences have begun circulation in the press, other citizens who suffered abuse at the hands of the Uttar Pradesh police have come forward. The Police Superintendent, Sanosh Kumar, has launched a massive probe of the station. Rohtash has already lost his job, while at least three other police officers face a similar fate. Kumar has vowed to bring criminal charges against everyone involved in these shocking incidents.