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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fight for your rights! - Update 7

We met the police last evening. Gave them the update of what had transpired between my wife and the KMF officials. Also gave them the contact details of the MD of KMF and asked them to get in touch with him.

Today early in the morning (7:30am, that early for us BTW) an Assistant Marketing Manager of KMF came to meet us at our house. He also wanted to know what had happened. So we explained the whole story to him all over again. This is getting to be a bit of a drag BTW. He called up his boss then, and again we repeated the story so far to his boss. He said that they have already started taking action against this guy. They have been finding out all the details, have informed all their units and their people, etc etc. He repeatedly assured me that this would not happen again. He also said that this guy's threats were a lot of hot air, he can't and won't do anything whatsoever to harm us in any way. I'm glad to hear that.

Now here's the bouncer. He hinted that we should not proceed with the FIR and the Consumer Court complaint. Huh? Huh? Said that it will reflect badly on the company. Well, sure. I know that. Kinda late in the game to be telling us this.

I'm from IIMB. If it was a matter of overcharging and misbehaving with me (a man), I would taken the corporate approach. I would have complained to KMF, and talked about bad service, the consumer face of the company making a bad impression, why it is bad for their business, etc. But this goes beyond that. The overcharging issue is just one aspect, which may be dealt with by the Consumer Court (hopefully, because, again we don't have proof). But this is really about harassment of a women. I am quite impressed by what the Blank Noise Project is trying to achieve, as well as the many groups working for women's rights in this country. And this is an open and shut case of harassment of women. I cannot even repeat the abuses and derogatory remarks this guy made on my wife when I met him in the evening of the incident. It would redden your ears if I put them down here. Why should women have to suffer such incidents, and then go through their own personal trauma and hell, maybe even without support from menfolk around. Why is it that such things are swept under the carpet and become a woman's problem rather than society's problem? So this is the bigger issue that I hope we can address through the FIR and the subsequent court case.

And underlying the whole issue is one about fighting for ones rights. This guy gave us a challenge, hindi movie style "lets see what you can do, I know blah blah and blah". This problem I think is endemic to Indian society. Every two bit so and so threatens common people with bodily harm and gets away with it. How many times have you had an altercation with shop keepers, auto drivers, et al, who tell you confidently, on your face to do whatever you can. They will offer you their cellphone so that you can call the police, right in front of them. They tell you confidently that you can complain to anybody you want to. Do they think that they can get away with it if you really were to complain? NO. What are they counting on? They are counting on our ignorance, our negligence, our chalta-hai attitude, our who-wants-to-get-into-trouble attitude, our it's-below-my-dignity attitude and i've-got-better-things-to-do-with-my-time attitude. I've got a point to prove here. I want to show this guy that I've called his bluff.

Maybe we wont be able to indict him in court (in fact, lets be practical, we probably wont), but that will not prevent us from trying. So we WILL proceed with the FIR, we WILL try to find witnesses, we WILL go to court, we WILL engage a lawyer, we WILL file the Consumer Court complain, we WILL follow up each of these threads, we WILL spend our time, money, effort and hopefully others will follow.

Read Fight for your rights! - Update 6.

33 comments:

Manjima said...

You guys rock. Its important to stand up for your rights and to let these creeps know you will not take this lying down. Not just the vendors, but the police and KMF guys as well. It's more often than not the authorities who tend to relax when you back out of a case. I think our backbones are needed to prop them up and keep them going!
I'm really happy for you. If I can do anything to help, do tell.

sapphire said...

I dont need to tell you that you are doing a commendable job. As a Hindi speaking single woman I face such intimidation and threats if I try and raise voice against unjust practices. Have been thinking of forming a group where we can take solace in numbers and raise our voice confidently. Let me know if you need any help with the current issue that you are handling.

Anirban said...

I also fully agree with you and support in your cause .
I myself have faced such vindications .
I am with you , for u.
Call me if u want 9886773750
Anirban

Fatman said...

Great Work. Just a thought. Due to the consistent riots happening around town, it might be easy for this milkman to ask some of his friends to attack you or ur wife in the pretext of communal violence. I was subject to this last week when a group of people stoned my house. I dont even know these people and the milkman can use the same alibi to direct his friends to stone ur place or something. These sadists will do anything. This is just my opinion and i hope and pray that i am wrong. But please take extreme precautions for your wife. And lastly, you guys rock!

nimi said...

Good for SWAR. Most people lump it-not because they dont'want to fight, but because of the frustration of dealing with the system-which you will see as you go along. Call me for anything.

N said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N said...

Glad you're doing this! I recently fought a sexual harassment case internally (not legally though that was the next step) and won. It took two months and a lot of patience and obstinacy. I had to escalate the matter right up to the global CEO. But it's worth it! Hang in there and don't give in or give up...all the best!

N said...

Internally, within the company, is what I meant. It was a case of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Abhishek said...

The things you say in your blog about the kind of attitude expressed cannot be more true especially for the indian middle class.
There is hardly anyone who has not faced untoward incidents , irrespective of being a woman or a man but most of us really do not do anything about it. We ignore it as it continues to breed right under our eyes .Needless to say its only gone from bad to worse.
We still talk about fighting bigger rights issues over rum and coke in evening parties at peoples houses but the steps that you have taken are clearly an example of positive human action.
My best wishes to you and your wife

Vinay said...

I admire the character that you are showing for not taking shit lying down.

However, without sounding cynical, I would suggest that while you go out to ensure that the creep gets his due, do not let your happiness hinge on the fulfillment of that. We see cases where trauma faced in the process of getting justice is considerably higher than the trauma undergone during the crime itself, especially when justice is not meted out.

You are doing the right thing. Do all u can, but don't let the outcome affect u too much, in case its futile. And don't worry about the threats. They are empty.

Good luck!

Anuja Byotra said...

It is always heartening to see people take their rights seriously and stand up for them. Best of luck with your case!

Kishor Cariappa said...

Hats off to you. You represent the changing face of India. My wishes are with you and may you be victorious!

Space Bar said...

Full support from here as well. We take things lying down much too easily. I'm glad someone isn't.

Forgive me if I point out a couple of things - it isn't intended to discourage you. The police will always help people if (1) a male accompanies a woman (2) if it's day time (3)if you belong to a certain economic class. It isn't suprising that they were helpful. I don't know how you view their inability to make copies or arrive at the 'crime scene' in their own vehicles; if you couldn't afford to make your own copies or pick and drop them, your FIR would have mouldered as others' no doubt do.

I would also be unsurprised by these guys telling you to drop the complaint. We'll put things straight from now on, please don't complain against us, is standard procedure.

But I'm glad you're proceeding all the same. More power to you and your wife.

Suggestion: could you put up all the links for harassment and consumer rights that you've dug out, on your side bar? This was, it will stay long after these posts sink into the archives.

Sorry about the long comment and best wishes.

Sunita said...

As you said, there is not a single one of us who havent faced similar situations and these ppl who abuse you are actually banking on your dont-care attitude. I really appreciate the courage you and your wife are showing and would like to tell you, you are inspiring a lot of us.

Twilight Fairy said...

Certainly don't let them get away with it. I know it's tough to be brave and face "goondagardi" but as you said, most of these local goons are all faff and no substance. Someone vocal is always heard and that's probably the only way they know to get away with whatever it is that they do.

I would suggest that you could also get together with blank noise on this (I have attended some meets in Delhi - they are always on the lookout of activities they can do to somehow make ppl aware of harassment). Hemangini is probably in blr only. They shd be able to take this incident and highlight it in a proper/controlled way to get mass publicity for this thing. Mass pubilcity surely counts. Trust me. You are just making ppl aware that it could happen to them and their wives tomorrow - you arent hurting anyone/obstructing anything. Give it a thought.

Naked Desserts said...

Bravo. More power to you.
And thanks a ton for all the links.

Varun said...

All applauses to you. Well done. And a big thumbs up to your wife for not taking the over charge lightly.

All the best and let's hope this blog inspires tonnes and tonnes of Indians hwo've lost their voice.

By the way.. I have read the phrase "hindi speaking.." and "non-kannada speaking.." by a lot of people out here..

I hope it is understood that this problem is not just region bound, but is a festering wound in the society all over the country.

Cheers!
Varun.

Christina said...

Great stuff... You folks are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

"Not my wife, who by the way is not an IT person. Thank God for that." << WTF!??

Madhusoodhana YR said...

Hi This is really good.... I like the way you are fighting.. Keep fighting.. You have the support of lot of kannadigas like me, who are pained that the use of Kannada language is used derogatorily agaisnt a guy who does not seem to understand.. A true kannadiga will embrace and welcome outsider and make him very comfortable.

Shah Navas said...

You inspired me a lot. When a married person like you can take up the fight. We (IT brethren) can definitely take up. Thanks for the plethora of info you provided.

abhnv said...

Hi there,

It's truly amazing to read about what you are doing. A culture of bullying and utter disrespect for women (or even men) is a blemish of whose ugliness, I am sure, the Indian middle class is well aware of. To stand up against it requires a lot of balls, so to speak, thus I really admire the two of you for it.

To quote a dialogue from Rang De Basanti:

Zindagi jeene ke do tareeke hote hain. Ek, jo ho raha hai hone do. Bardasht karte raho. Ya phir zimmedari uthao usse badalne ki...

And I'm proud you've taken the latter step. Wish you and your wife all the best.

Anu said...

Guys,
Well done! I'm rooting for you all the way! And stay safe.

Hawkeye said...

@ALL: Thanks all very much for stopping over and dropping a word of support. It wonderful to know that there's an invisible network of support for all of us.

@manjima: Will do. For now, mail Swar, she's really the one who needs all the support. she's having a tough time, she's been doing a lot of running around since I cant take a lot of time off from work.

@sapphire: I know exactly what you mean. I dont whats up with these people with silly language issues. Frankly until I came to Bangalore 10 years ago, I never quite viewed the world as north Indian-south Indian. And I'm sure it must be much worse for a woman than for a man.

@fatman: This thought has repeated crossed my mind. At the slightest hint of trouble we will go off to a friend's or relative's place.

@nimi: Dont be discouraging, I dont expect this from you ;)

@n: Smart lady. Fight for your rights, that what i say, if you dont already know it :D

@vinay: Ha ha, i'm more cynical than you. i've already written that I'm sure we wont be able to indict him, but we'll still try. Not so sure about the threats, though.

Hawkeye said...

@space bar: I am quite impressed by what you said. I've been thinking about these. Which is why I've posted what happened without hiding. Yes, it definitely helps to belong to a certain economic class. We went to the police station in good, "corporate" clothes. They had a smile and two chairs, lent a sympathetic ear, said dont worry. When they hinted that I should get the FIR copied, I did so. When they asked to pick them up from the police station, I did so. Can I risk losing the goodwill of the police? No. Not in this country where they are the most important link in the game. Would you have done the same? Yes, of course. Will I do something illegal? NO, absolutely not.

You are absolutely right, justice in this country is very selective. In the greater scheme of things, what we are pursuing is very trivial. As we speak a thousand people are being killed, looted, thrown out of their houses, being bought, sold, raped, murdered, you name it. Should that stop us? I dont know, I just dont know.

@twilight fairy: Yes, blank noise (jasmeen) already knows about this...

@madhusoodhana: Yeah, these guys take a language, mash it up, and serve it up with vitriolic to someone who cannot comprehend what all the angst is all about. I graduated from a B'lore engn college, and so many of my Kannadigan friends used to joke with us, fight with us, eat with us (us being, ha ha, "nordh-indians") and used to take such great pains to teach us a word of two of kannada, and always welcoming us to their houses, to their parties...

Sai G said...

I am very impressed and happy that people are taking this kind of action against harassment and overcharging... I ve seen shopkeepers esp on MG road who charge over the MRP, and we ve refused to purchase from them. They do this for the same reason a dog scrathes its balls. Becos it can. Same goes for all the mentally retarded perverts in Bangalore.

I hope that everything goes well for your excellent efforts..

nku said...

I liked the last paragraph. Amen.

You can obviously take care of yourself and your family. So I won't say take care. Just a lot of admiration and wishes from me today.

nku.

poupee97 said...

Hats off to you two! You are right... we are mostly too lazy to protest being over-charged. At best, we refuse and walk off, but we so, so rarely make an issue of it. Until each of us (the rest of india, that is) decides to fight, we are all guilty of encouraging the system to continue.

Regarding the harassment of women... well, it's difficult. As difficult as it is to complain against being over-charged, it is so much more difficult to complain on this issue. I have a blog entry on this, if you're interested.
http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-ViebVUEhdLOqocl.t_Z.Og--?cq=1&p=463

Wish you luck and victory in your fights.

poupee97 said...

PS: you'll need to sign in to yahoo and agree to mature content to view that blog entry

Space Bar said...

Hawkeye: no, no, you shouldn't stop what you are doing. if we think of the places where justice doesn't get done, we will be weighed down by all of it before we even begin. all i was saying is, that though they will be polite to you, they will throw bueaucracy at you, hoping to discourage you.

i sincerely hope that you will not get discouraged. And please be careful during the bandh; it could be an excuse for intimidation.

Space Bar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deepthi said...

Bravo!! I completely support your cause. As a matter of fact, I am inspired by your courage and conviction.

For the first time, someone who just doesn't rant, but is actually doing something.

Any help you want, just post a request here. I will do whatever I can to help.

And taking precaution is a good idea.

Gary said...

If this incident had to happen in mumbai - the milkman would have beaten to pulp by people around when your wifey was being abused by him.

thackerays make a lot of noise abt outsiders whereas the local kannadas really resent outsiders i guess...have been told of many such issues by friends in BG.