Thursday, January 18, 2018
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rag pickers on streets

I have written several times in the past and want to reiterate today as well that the police authorities should take drastic action against ‘kabaris’ (rag pickers) who are seen on the streets before dawn. In winter, when they are seen on roads before dawn, one wonders which customer are they looking for.

Obviously there is suspicion that the rag-pickers could be out on a questionable mission.
The other day—some weeks ago, I may say—I saw from a distance a ‘kabari’ with a thela being badly beaten up  by some garage owner on Lohia Marg near the Elgin Road crossing. He had apparently trespassed into the premises and was probably caught red-handed. I was watching the scene from a distance but a rickshaw puller coming from that side told me that the rag picker had been trying to pilfer something from the shop. He must have been a middle-aged kabari but the merciless manner in which he was being thrashed seemed to suggest that the man must have committed something drastic to deserve that treatment. From a distance I could see that none went to his help. He did not even shout for any help, creating the impression that either he was guilty or he did not want to be recognized by people of this area because he had regular customers from whom he collects ‘raddi’.
But what happened on Friday morning (Nov 22) only highlighted the daredevilry of the scrap collector. He was a bare teenager, carrying a long bag with him, rather dragging it along with him on the ground. I am told that such rag-pickers are a regular sight in the area. But this time what the dare-devil did was to beard the lion in its own den. Yes, he tried to sneak into the tin-shed of police guards outside the house of a High Court judge. It is then that one of the cops saw him. The youth was trying to hide between the wall of the house and the tin-shed when the constable pulled him out. There were three cops. You can imagine the third-degree that was used against that youth. He bore the kicks and the lathis silently, not shouting or screaming but bearing the onslaught in pain. He fell on the ground. He was kicked again. He was given lathi blows too. For a moment it seemed that the victim would faint in the  middle of the  road. But he did not. He did lay flat for a few seconds. One of the cops was being very harsh while another, who had also assaulted him, restrained him. An old woman was saying from a distance: ‘Let him go now’.  The thick-skinned man got up, walked a distance and then sat on the pavement. He was asked by the cops to go away from there or else he would get another dose of fists and kicks. Surprisingly enough, the youth got up and walked away straight as if nothing had happened. He must be a hard-core criminal. The cops were saying: ‘He will not come this side again’. But a passerby told them: ‘Don’t be that sure. The other day a middle-aged Kabari was badly thrashed, insulted, kicked and the rest of it when he tried to enter a shop. After two days he was again seen back with his cycle-thela.’

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