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I was riding my bike into work on Friday morning – from Faridabad to Kailash Colony in New Delhi. I hadn’t got far from home when I passed a dharna for the 23-year old survivor of last week’s brutal rape incident – one of many taking place all over the city, NCR and country. I found myself wondering how I would feel if it had been my sister in that bus. Like most people, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel. I couldn’t imagine how her parents must feel. Raising their daughter and watching her on the way to becoming a doctor for the last 23 years – and then, in just a couple of hours, having it all come undone like this.
I was still lost in these unpleasant thoughts when I turned on to Mathura Road and spotted a chartered bus ahead of me. As I was driving up to it I looked up and noticed it, too, had tinted windows. Here was something else I couldn’t imagine – how could our law-enforcers still be allowing this? I couldn’t see how many people were in the bus, but it looked like just the kind in which anything could be going on on the inside without anyone who wasn’t a passenger coming to know. It’s a Friday today – who could know if or when some drunk men decided to ‘celebrate’ the weekend with a joyride that left another person traumatised, injured and/or near-death?
The bus had stopped to drop off some passengers – I spotted a traffic controller some distance away and drove ahead to him. I asked him how he could allow buses with tinted windows on the roads – especially considering what had taken place over the weekend. Who knows – if we hadn’t allowed tinted windows in the first place, the horrific incident wouldn’t even have had the chance to take place.
‘Where is the bus?’ He asked me. Right on cue, having dropped off its passengers, the bus with the tinted windows zoomed right past us. The controller got on my bike and told me to follow it. At the next stop, I put my bike aside the two of us boarded the bus.
The traffic controller spoke angrily to the driver demanding what he was doing still driving around with tinted windows – didn’t he realise what had just happened? Didn’t he realise this was banned? He made the driver park the bus on the side of the road while he chipped away at the film on the windows and began peeling it away. The other passengers must have been filled with the same anger at the injustice as the rest of us. Feeling themselves unable to do anything on their own, once they saw the traffic controller picking away at the film, they immediately began to do the same – picking and scratching and peeling away the film from the windows. While this was happening, I could see the bus driver glaring at me. I didn’t care for his anger – I don’t know if he would have hit me, though he did look like he wanted to – at that time, all I could think about was the girl in the hospital. She had landed up there because tinted windows just like these had kept people outside the bus from seeing what was going on inside.
Ten minutes later the bus windows were free of film, we were off the bus, and I was back on my bike. I don’t know removing the film from the windows of a bus had any effect on society but I am happy to have contributed towards preventing another incident from happening.
We often don’t raise our voice because we think nothing will happen. And because nothing happens, we don’t raise our voice. An elderly lady on the bus put her hand on my head and said ‘god bless you’ – but I don’t think I did anything heroic or great. I only saw something happen that I believed was wrong and I raised my voice to make it right. Aisa nahi hai ki awaaz sunne wala nahi hota – kai baar awaaz uthane wale bhi nahi hote. Please raise your voice when you see something wrong.
About the Author: Pushkar Kirola is Assistant Manager of Accounts at Breakthrough.