Police diary: ‘You either die a hero or a villain’

Coronavirus Police
Police high-handedness, most police personnel say, comes from the fact that they are poorly staffed and most of the times overworked, with little perks or relief. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

For constable Bittu Singh (name changed), a childhood memory has remained etched into his mind like words on a tombstone. Bittu, along with his elder bother and friends, was playing cricket in the lane leading to their red-brick house with a leaking tin roof in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district.

Suddenly an argument ensued over a missed wicket and Bittu, then 8 years old, had thrown a fit. “My brother lunged forward and slapped me hard in the face — chataak,” Bittu says, adding his own sound effect.

It’s not that the slap hurt for long, but the damage it had done to his reputation in front of the other boys. “That day I realised the power of chaanta (slap) — it may not hurt someone much physically, but can break one emotionally.”

Years later when he joined the Uttar Pradesh Police, he knew his time had come to unleash that trusted weapon on petty criminals. Now in his mid-40s, Bittu Singh confesses to have well-utilised the power of chaanta in his decades-old-career — "chataak, chataak, chataak".

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