Close Your Eyes! There Is No Crime.

Bangalore made global news as the IT hub of the India. It made headlines when it got added into business vocabulary via Bangalored being included as a word in the dictionary. Now Bangalore seems to be vying for another crown – the comic capital of the world, thanks to the knee-jerk reactions of our government and police.

In response to a mugging of a woman in an ATM, the police laid the blame on the banks for not providing adequate security and facilitated closure of over 1000 ATMs in the city. That this lady was mugged in a busy market area of the city in broad daylight was not as serious a matter for the cops, much as it happened inside an ATM.

It is the responsibility of the bank to provide security inside the ATM, chipped in the state government. Banks will have to provide adequate security or shut down their ATMs, they thundered.

The ATM in question had a working CCTV which captured the robbery in detail, the footage of which should help identify the criminal. Since that would take a long time for our cops, they decided to find something else to show quick (albeit useless) action: close down all ATMs without private security.

Surely our authorities in government and police are aware that the private security provided is for the safety of the ATM itself and not for the protection of the public that utilise the ATMs? Yes, the physical presence of a security guard can cause a deterrent, but what happens once a person leaves an ATM? Or has law and order ceased to be a subject of the state and moved on to being the proprietary of private institutions?

If the police have their way they may want ATMs to be get rid of entirely. After all, we have had instances of entire ATMs being hauled away by thieves, and we are experts at ridding problems at the roots. Their login: if there are no ATMs, then people can’t withdraw money from them, and so can’t be mugged! Problem solved.

Our authorities evidently draws their inspiration from the Hindi adage “naa rahegaa baans, naa bajegi baansuri” (with no bamboo, there can be no flute playing) which was originally proposed as a solution in a folk story to stop snakes from wandering in!

Our knee-jerk (and even foolish) solutions are second to none in the world, and only contribute to making a mockery of our situation and in no way goes to solving the grave issues our society is facing.

Even our proposed solutions to heinous crimes as rape are not very different. No less than the Supreme Court of our country mandated that we remove the sun-films off every vehicle in the country, because of an abduction and rape in a moving vehicle with darkened windows. Then there are those that believe the solution to the problem lies in changing the dress that women wear, or even as simple as calling somebody “bhaiyya“!

There is no real fear of the law or of punitive punishment, and this is gnawing at the moral fabric of the society. The rampant corruption and thievery at the highest levels of our democracy have contributed immensely to the people feeling they can get away with anything. We don’t even follow the most basic of traffic rules anymore, unless we know we are going to get caught for the same!

It is in this context that the Bangalore decision of shutting down ATMs as a solution to the mugging assumes immense significance. If we continue with our myopic approach at addressing issues, where will these knee-jerk actions leave us?

1000 ATMs across the city have been shut down after a woman was mugged live on CCTV camera installed inside it. What next? With limited access to ATMs it would mean people have to find those ATMs with a security guard or go to the banks itself. (Wow! When was the last time you went into a bank to withdraw money?) Would that mean we tend to withdraw more money than usual, to overcome the absence of the friendly neighbourhood ATM?

What happens once we hit the road? Clearly, it is as easy for miscreants to keep track of people leaving with money in their wallets? Will we have to always go in pairs to withdraw money? Perhaps we should leave our wallets at home as it increases the chances of getting mugged? Or stay at home? And how then do we deal with the high number of burglaries and murders that have been happening in various parts of the city?

We the people are in a hapless situation, but what makes it worse is that our authorities appear most clueless. This is as perfect a time as any to analyse and address our issues in a scientific manner – and attempt to find a real fix.


– Published at DNA Blogs on December 01, 2013. Original article can be found here.