“Badshaho, we saw you kissing the girl”: To make a quick buck, the police will accuse you of anything
Going out with friends was a simple routine for me. It never bothered me whether I was going out with guys or girls since I never thought it to be much of an issue. However, in just one encounter, the Pakistani police taught me all the things that can go terribly wrong while going out with male friends.
It was just another day when I went out with two of my friends from university. One of them was driving while the other sat in the front passenger seat and I took the backseat. We drove to a café located on main road, bustling with traffic and parked in front of a roadside café. The server came and we ordered juices. It was a café frequented by many and hence, there were other people present as well, sitting in cars around us.
We were handing our empty glasses back to the server and settling the bill, when six policemen on three motorcycles appeared out of nowhere and stopped us. I was really confused and wondered if we had done something wrong or unlawful. The only thing that came to my mind was that perhaps, we had taken a wrong turn.
They told us to stop the car and asked my friends to step out. In order to lighten the mood, we started teasing my friend, who had been driving,
“Who gave you a driving license? You should go back to driving school.”
Amidst this light banter, both my friends stepped out of the car. While one of them began to explain how we had mistakenly made the wrong turn, one of the policemen yelled at him,
“We saw what you guys were doing in the car!”
My friends looked at each other in bewilderment and then, one of them – in a voice laden with frustration and indignation – asked,
“Excuse me? What exactly are you trying to imply?”
In a heavy Punjabi accent, one of the policemen sarcastically replied,
“Badshaho! Hun aay vi assi dassiya?”
(Your highness, you want us to tell you that as well?)
My friend persisted and repeated his question. And now the other policeman, who had remained silent until now, came forward and said,
“We saw you kissing the girl.”
I felt my mind going numb at their accusations. I wanted to jump out of the car and protest that these boys were just like my brothers. But then I calmed myself down and thought that it was probably more prudent to stay silent and listen to their exchange.
My friends did not say a word for a while. The policemen’s accusations had shocked them as well. However, eventually, one of them broke the silence and said,
“Do you even know what you are saying? Are you in your senses?”
To this, one policeman shot back,
“Yes! We swear to God, we saw you people kissing.”
Although I knew that I had not done anything wrong, I was still shivering. These so-called protectors were accusing me of something that I had not done. I took out my cell phone and thought of calling my parents. One of my friends walked over to the car and seeing the state that I was in, tried to calm me down.
“We are handling it, don’t worry.”
He went back to the policemen and said,
“I have the Quran with me in the car. How about you take an oath on it to prove that you guys saw us kissing?”
On hearing this, two of the policemen immediately took a step back, while the expressions on the faces of the rest changed from smug satisfaction to slight indecisiveness.
After a few moments, one of them came forward and said,
“We shall not do any such thing. Either come with us to the police station or we can resolve the issue here, in a ‘friendly’ manner.”
My friend asked, in a sarcastic tone,
“And what exactly do you mean by a ‘friendly’ way?”
One of the policemen replied in an annoyed voice,
“You know very well what we mean.”
The arguments carried on for a while until one of my friends decided to call his cousin, who happened to be a police officer. He handed the phone to the policemen and after talking to this officer, the policemen agreed to let us go, without any further discomfort.
I shudder to think how this situation would have unfolded if my friend had not called his cousin. We were not willing to give them any ‘friendly’ bribe and had we continued to resist, God knows what those policemen would have done to us.
As we all sat in silence on the way back, only one thought kept going around in circles in my head – would I ever be able to go out with my friends again?
And the only answer that echoed back was ‘No’.
I was truly traumatised by this event. We all talk about how our roads are no longer safe but to actually experience a situation such as this leaves one quite shaken and shattered.
And the sad irony is that our police force itself is a major cause behind this lack of security and safety. They are out there, hunting down innocent civilians for their own motives; to make quick money.
I do not think I will ever be able to roam around freely on the streets of my city – not anymore. After my encounter with our police force, I am fearful of its corruption and harassment.
Since that day, my own city has become a little more daunting and disturbing.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.