Three nights ago, a group of young men was picked up by the local police from a bar in Andheri East, Mumbai. The reason given to them for their detainment was that the bar they were drinking at did not have a license to serve alcohol. The youths were released from police custody only the next morning, after people in high places intervened. An account of the night by Arun S Ravi:
Everyone was above the age of 21.
Date – Thursday, 17th February, 2011
People in the bar at the time of arrest – 23
Time of arrest – 11: 15 pm
Type of people at the bar –
A group of boys celebrating their friend Siddharth’s birthday including a non-drinking 21year old whose hand was in a sling because of a cricket injury.
2 casual drinkers.
A boy named Brenden celebrating the fact that he was to fly to Dubai on the 18th , with his friends.
A man named Sarfaraz who doesn’t even drink. Neither does his friend who was with him. Etc.
Ashwin and I went for band practice at Freedom Jam Room and decided to go to LP for food and a couple of drinks post practice. We met Keegan Pereira and Avil D’Souza at the bar and were engaged in conversation till 11pm when a cop truck and 2 cop cars arrived outside the bar. The police barred anyone from leaving the bar and forced people to stay inside while they performed their “rounds.” It is to be noted that the cops have been seen performing these rounds on other occasions as well while we’ve been there and it was all fun and games before, but not so much this time.
Timeline with details-
11:00pm – An empty cop van pulls up outside the bar with some 20 odd cops in another van behind it. There’s a police car with its siren lights on outside, and police officers in it. These officers enter the bar, and exit the bar. They enter again and assault a waiter who tries to make a phone call and yell Hindi curse words at him. People start talking when this happens and a cop yells (at the top of his voice) at all of us telling us to shut up. 2-3 other cops dressed in casuals very rudely ask us for our details without telling us why this is happening to anyone and asking for our cooperation. The details included name, age, religion, phone number, father’s name and full postal address.
11:30pm – All of us (23) are forced to enter a police van that seats 10. The interiors of the bus are filled with cop uniforms hung on railings near the windows, riot shields, chairs and the whole bus just generally fucking stunk. We still aren’t told why this is happening to us and are asked for our cooperation, but very rudely. The way you would ask murderers to cooperate. People start asking why this is happening but we’re told to wait for 15 minutes and they’ll let us go. They said we would be taken to a hospital for a medical checkup. They didn’t tell us what for. We were brought to Cooper Hospital in Juhu in a police van, paraded around the city like criminals and escorted by other police vans. We had 1 armed guard with an assault rifle and a Kevlar vest in our bus and 2 other cops.
12:00pm – We arrive at the hospital and are escorted by armed policemen to the MI room where the medical checkup was to happen. They called out our names one by one and the following is how the checkup took place –
Doctor – Is there any problem with you?
Person – No.
Doctor – Lift up your shirt…. Ok. Now turn around.
This comprehensive checkup was done for all 23 of us and we were forced back into the police van and were escorted to the Andheri East Police Station.
1:00am – Upon arriving at the station, all of us are forced into a room and are locked inside it. The room had railings we could look through and communicate with the pigs. We didn’t have any food or water and then we realized that we still had Siddharth’s birthday cake. All of us sang for his birthday and shared his cake behind bars and got to know each other better. The police officer outside, very rudely, told us to shut up. One of the boys yelled back at him. He got up and had his guards open the door so they could give him “special treatment” in some other room. When they came to take him away, all of us pushed him back into the crowd and didn’t allow the officers to touch him. They withdrew and locked the doors. 2 cops then entered with forms that said ARREST/COURT SURRENDER FORM (Avil D’Souza stole a copy of this form) and they forced us to fill these forms as “standard procedure.” None of us said we would and they left the room.
1:45am – People start calling their friends and relatives who could get us out of this mess. The 3 star police officer enters and tells us to shut up. When asked why we were brought here and treated like absolute shit, his response was “You were drinking in a bar without a liquor permit.”
“Why the fuck aren’t the bar owners in this room then?” asked someone to which we never got a clean response, ever.
A relative of one of the boys happened to be the leader of the Youth Congress in south Mumbai . He tried to talk the cops out of it by asking them how we were supposed to know about liquor permit. He said “I have been to LP for over 30 years and this has never happened before.” But the cops didn’t budge. They didn’t even do a breath analyzer test or any concrete medical test to even have any evidence to put us behind bars. It turned out that the lifting-shirt-up fiasco was the check for signs of assault. They said they would have to have us fill the forms only then they could let us go. They also wanted to use us as an example and have us testify in court that the bar we were at didn’t have a liquor permit to scare all the other bars doing the same thing to apply for one, or shut down. They wanted us, desperately to do this, hence we were forced to fill the forms, even if it meant detaining us without any grounds for arrest. When asked why we were locked up the police officer said “They are not locked up, they are in a room.”
4:00am – Tired, everyone finally agrees to fill the forms because we’ve been confined in this shady room with barely any water, no food, and no permission to go to the toilet. Manoj Vishwakarma has a 1 year old boy and his wife waiting for him at home without any clue about what’s really going on. Everyone else had similar stories and it got to a point where we were desperate to leave. We decided to fill up the forms but not sign them. The 2 constables reappeared with the forms and everyone filled them. We were then loaded back into the police truck to be taken back to Cooper hospital in Juhu for a breath-analyzer test.
5:30am – We reach Cooper hospital after the forms are filled. Again, we are taken there with an escort. Passersby stare as we go by them and everyone looks at us like we’re some criminals. The same armed guard is in the van with 2 constables. The van was stopped outside cooper hospital. Some 40 police constables were outside the hospital waiting for us. The bus stopped at the drive in and we were asked to remain inside the vehicle. After a few minutes we realized we can’t be treated this way. We asked them nicely if we could stand outside the bus, without running away. Just a request. Then a cop yelled at us and told us to be inside. (All the cops were armed with lathis). All of us yelled back at them and took a stand. Everyone would get out of this vehicle NOW. We decided that if they had to hit us, they could do it, but we weren’t fucking staying inside the bus. All of us rushed out of the bus yelling. Everyone was insulting the police, calling them names. Shouting at them at their face. A very emotional Suhail yelled (in Hindi) “TELL US WHY HAVE YOU DETAINED US YOU FUCKING MOTHERFUCKERS!!!! IT’S BEEN 6 FUCKING HOURS!!!! WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE!!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING WITH US YOU MOTHERFUCKING PIECES OF FUCKING SHIT!!! WE HAVEN’T EATEN WE HAVEN’T HAD ANYTHING TO DRINK !!! OUR FAMILIES ARE WONDERING WHERE WE ARE!!!! WHAT THE FUCK DO WE TELL THEM!!!!!!!” The cops charged to beat him up but we pushed them away and pulled back Suhail and held him back. He was still yelling. Others started yelling too. Then Ashwin Dutt pointed out a drunk constable standing on the cops side. ALL attention went to him. We pulled him to the forefront and took photographs of him. “WE ARE CITIZENS, YOU ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS AND YOU’RE DRINKING ON THE JOB AND ARRESTING US!!!???” someone yelled. “ALL THE COPS SHOULD BE PUT BEHIND BARS AND WE SHOULD BE LET GO!!!.” The drunk constable tries to sneak away but Avil and Ashwin run after him and grab him by his collar and bring him back.
6:15am – We are forced again to do the medical test. But we took a stand and said that the wasted constable should be check first. On insisting, the same 3 star officer said “You don’t need to check him, He’s got a family.” Hearing this everyone broke out into anger, yelling at the police for assuming all of us are street orphans! We finally did and completed the test. All of us were loaded back into the armed van and taken back to the police station at Andheri East.
7:30am – The police call it as a bad joke and let us go after they verify whether or not we’ve filled the “Arrest” forms.
PS – Just found out that the name of the police officer is Sr. Police Inspector Bhalerao.
Arun S Ravi also has videos for further proof.