Last Sunday an incident shook Kima, a 32-year old game developer from Mizoram, that caused him to lose his faith in Mumbai. Four days later, over two rounds of coffee and tasty poha at the Malbar Hill Police Station, he was assured that Mumbai had not deserted him.
Firstpost had carried a blog post by Kima, who is a prolific blogger and goes by the name of Mizohican online, about how he had been racially abused by a policeman near All Saint’s Church in front of the Hanging Gardens at Malabar Hills. Kima in his post, had invited the policemen concerned to join him for a cup of delicious coffee and talk about their misconceptions of Northeastern Indians.
Jt CP Sadanand Date responded to Kima and ordered a departmental inquiry. He was also invited to the police station by DCP (Zone-II) Nisar Tamboli to help with the inquiry. And if the coffee, poha and the conversation that followed is anything to go by, then Mumbai Police is surely making every effort to reach out to the likes of Kima who get harassed every day.
Kima reached out to the defaulting officers through a language that they were probably not used to, as most of them are more familiar with taking orders and running errands. From the onset, Kima made it clear that he did not want any disciplinary action to be taken against the officer who had made the derogatory comment, but wanted them to be educated about the North East states and what are the biases that they face every day.
But what exactly had happened that day? According to the statement of the guilty constable who was driving the police van that day(his name has been withheld on Kima’s request), he had called out to Kima and his friends by calling them ‘Kancha’. He had assumed that they were blocking his way. Then he emphasised his comment, “Kathmandu se aa reya la kya? (Have you come from Kathmandu?)”
Instead of hitting out at the policeman, Kima said he just wanted to know why the policeman had called him that. The defaulting policeman said, “I thought that since their features matched those of the Nepali who work here, they must be from Kathmandu. Nepali people are often called Kancha and so I did not think that it could cause hurt or anguish.”
Kima then made an earnest attempt to explain the seven north east states and how different they are from each other. Forget Nepal, the guilty policeman was not even aware of the seven states that exist in the north east.
DCP Tamboli also made an effort to explain. “Can you get away after abusing someone as Dalit? Can you mock a Muslim? Isn’t that downright offensive?, Likewise, northeast people already face a lot of racial abuse from common people already. Uniformed policemen should not be party to that.”
The police constable repeatedly apologised saying that he did not know that this was an insult. Kima said he understood and also requested that no action be taken against him. “We are not here to fight with anyone. We are here to make them see our side so that they feel friendly with us.”
DCP (Zone II) Nisar Tamboli said he was willing to go the extra mile to conduct workshops and interactive meets for such groups in the six police stations in his jurisdiction. He said, “Much more than admonishing people, there should be interaction among disparate groups in Mumbai. All of us should get to hear each others voices.”
So much so that he assured Kima that the first meeting would happen on Good Friday, where several Mizos would congregate at the All Saint’s Church in Malbar Hills. He said that the defaulting policeman as well as several other officers would interact with the people to find out their problems and action would be taken if anything untoward happened.
Kima’s statement was recorded by the police on Thursday. Two other friends of Kima, who were present on that day have also recorded their statement. And Kima specifically mentioned in the statement that he did not want any action to be taken against the policeman.
How did Kima feel after blowing up a storm over two cups of coffee at the police station, literally? Kima smiled ear to ear when the same policemen who were in the car that day when he was abused came to get a taxi for him when he left the police station. After this, he certainly wouldn’t mind meeting them on Good Friday!
And this is what he tweeted after meeting the cops.
“Jst got off frm almost 4 hrs long meeting wit DCP Tamboli & other cops. Very fruitful & wonderful. I’ve never been this proud 2b a Mumbaikar”