My Family Fears For Its Life, Because We Stood For The Truth

Posted by Chandan Gomes in My Story, Society, Staff Picks
January 5, 2017

How can one be a law-abiding and a truthful citizen, if the laws that are there to protect the citizenry only exist on paper?

My family has been staying in the Roshanara Club Staff Quarters in Delhi since the last 70-75 years. My father was born here, I was born here and for us it is our only home. Over the last seven decades, till very recently, it has been a peaceful, village-like neighbourhood. Most of the residents belong to the working class – they work as gardeners, waiters, cleaners, tennis boys etc. in the Roshanara Club.

However, in the last two to three years, a criminal who goes by the name Ramlal has started flexing his muscles in our neighbourhood. Fighting multiple criminal and civil cases, the man is involved in selling illegal liquor, running a gambling den etc. He abuses people on the streets and has made the neighbourhood unsafe for everyone, especially women and children after dark. He has encroached land in the neighbourhood, has done illegal construction and rented out rooms to anti-social elements like himself without any police verification.

My family has been constantly raising its voice against him and time again he has threatened us with violence for doing so. On December 31, he broke our cooler, its stand and the steel cage of our AC. He threatened us with more dire consequences including physical harm. And today, he stole our ladder which was over 20 years old. We immediately called the police and that is where our misery began – we had to make four calls for the Delhi Police to take our complaint seriously.

The broken cooler and AC cage.

We got a call from our local police station, Roop Nagar and the officer instead of promptly arriving at our house, started persuading us to come the station. We had to hold our ground and persisted, and only then he agreed to pay us a visit. In all this drama, over 40 minutes passed! It took the Delhi Police that much time to arrive; what is so disturbing and offers a grim reality of the ground situation is that Roop Nagar Police Station is just 2-3 kilometres from my home. My family spent those 40 minutes in fear, scared of physical harm or abuse. And even once the police arrived, they did not take any conclusive action. They just made my father write a complaint application, emphasising that we concentrate on the theft instead of bootlegging, the direct threat of violence against my family and Ramlal’s other illegal activities. No FIR was lodged, the police did not conduct any investigation. When I asked the Sub-Inspector, how we will get our ladder back and requested him to be there when we put our cooler and our AC cage back, he did not provide me with any answer. All he said was he will register this case in court and that is it.

For the last two years we have been living in this environment of fear and the goon, Ramlal, has constantly threatened my family with physical harm for raising our voice against his wrongdoings. I live with my grandmother, who is 83 years old and is a cardiac patient and both my parents our in their sixties. Being a documentary photographer, I travel often and I really fear for their security. We as a family our paying the price for standing up against a bully and his criminal activities. I find it hard to believe that the beat officer and the local police station is not aware of Ramlal’s criminal activities, considering his place has been raided in the past and he is fighting multiple criminal and civil cases. Why cannot the law stand for the innocent, for the law abiding citizens of this country? Why doesn’t the Delhi Police take action against Ramlal and other goons like him?

As conscientious objectors, my family and I do not want to give up on this fight because we fear for our lives. We want to believe in the law and stand for what is right, against threat, intimidation and bullying. Hence I will request you, my fellow citizens, to extend your support to our struggle. To strengthen our voice against this injustice. Please help my neighbourhood and my family in this fight in whichever way you can. Please join the chorus so that our voices echo in the ears of those whose duty is to protect us. Please stand by us in taking this fight till the very end.

Images provided by author.
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