Friday, 21 September 2012


His name was Raja but he was not a king as his name suggested but a mere pickpocket plying his trade during the peak hours in the city buses and suburban trains. He would never operate from the same part of the city for more than a day. He would keep changing his location to avoid getting caught. Moreover, Raja was ably assisted in his trade by two young accomplices, Selva and Gaurav.

Once Raja had indentified his target, he would point out the target to his accomplices who would ensure that Raja could pick the pocket of the victim without any hindrance by blocking his activity from the eyes of the others travelling in the bus or train by positioning themselves in such a manner that no one else could notice what Raja was upto.

Actually, Raja was the son of a wealthy businessman and there was no need for him to take up the profession of a pickpocket for he was financially well off. However, Raja became a pickpocket for he enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and the fulfillment of his mission which sent his adrenalin shooting. Raja never used the money he obtained from picking others pockets for his own needs. He would normally spend it on his accomplices. Raja had been practicing his profession for more than seven years but had never been apprehended for his wrong doing. This only emboldened him to extend his trade to include not only picking others pockets but also chain snatching and other such criminal activities.

Raja was more active during the first few days of the month when people who received their salaries would carry it back home on the public transport system. It was during such a period during the first week of August, 2009 that Raja noticed a rather fat middle aged man standing in a bus stop on one of the arterial roads of the city. The man seemed to have a fat wallet bulging in his pant pocket which aroused Raja’s excitement. The wallet peeped out of the fat old man’s pocket inviting Raja to come and grab it. Raja immediately pointed out the target for the evening to his accomplices.

When the fat man boarded a terribly crowded bus proceeding to one of the suburbs of the city Raja and his two accomplices also boarded the same bus. Raja knew that the bus would start emptying its passengers as it neared the suburb which was its destination. It would be easier for him to pick the wallet when the bus was fully crowded. Raja noticed that the fat man purchased a ticket to a location not too far from where he had boarded the bus. This meant that Raja had very little time to act. Meanwhile, Selva and Gaurav had positioned themselves around the fat man and Raja so that no one else could see what Raja was upto.

Raja picked the moment when he would dip his quick silver fingers into the pocket of the fat man. The bus which had been proceeding smoothly, braked abruptly when a traffic signal suddenly changed to red. Raja fell on top of the fat man as if he had been thrown by the force of the braking bus. He gently slipped in his fingers and had almost withdrawn the purse from the pocket when a steely hand grabbed his wrist. It was no one else but the fat man who had noticed Raja’s hand attempting to pick his pocket and with surprising agility for such a huge man he immediately grabbed the hand of Raja and refused to let go. The fat man started shouting “Thief, thief”. The people in the bus had not witnessed what was happening and they were momentarily puzzled as to who the thief was and who the victim was.

Raja was stunned for a moment but he immediately recovered and fished out his pocket knife. As the passengers watched horror struck, he threatened the fat man, gesturing menacingly with his knife and thrust his knife towards the fat man. The fat man moved swiftly with agility that no one would have expected from such an obese man. He deftly moved his body away from Raja’s thrust and still holding on to Raja’s hand he bent it backwards making Raja scream in pain. As the other passengers watched in wonder the fat man pinned Raja to the side of a seat and shouted at the conductor and driver of the bus to take the bus to the nearest railway station.

Raja’s two young accomplices, Selva and Gaurav who had witnessed the fat man’s savage assault of their boss from the side lines melted into the crowd on hearing the word police station. The bewildered driver who had not witnessed what had happened behind his back turned the bus around and headed to the police station which was just half a kilometre away. On reaching the police station the fat man kicked, pulled and dragged the screaming Raja into the station. The inspector who had been lounging inside was suddenly woken up by the noise made by Raja and stared hard at him. “Aha! I have been waiting to nab this rotten piece of excreta for a long while”, he exclaimed in glee.

Meanwhile a newspaper reporter who had been hanging around the station as part of his beat noticed the commotion and came rushing in with his camera which he clicked incessantly, capturing images of the surprised Raja.

At that moment, Raja’s accomplices who had managed to find a shady Lawyer rushed into the station rather pompously. Noticing the journalist clicking pictures of his client the Lawyer went up to the inspector and screamed at him, “How dare you allow this scumbag journalist to take pictures and invade the privacy of my client”, he screamed. “Don’t you know that an accused has the right to privacy unless he is proved guilty?” he continued. “I am going to file a complaint against you and the journalist with the State Human Rights Commission, unless you immediately release my client and let him go”, he concluded.

“What about my rights?” roared the fat man, “I am the victim here for it was my pocket that was picked, but you seem to behave like the pick pocket was the victim”, he continued.

The lawyer was not one to be cowed down easily and looked at the fat man as if he were a piece of dust. “You keep out of this”, he screamed at the fat man. “It is your mistake that my client is now suffering. If only rich guys like you had taken a cab or a three wheeler instead of commuting by bus with money in your pockets, my client would not have been reduced to this state”, he said with his nose up in the air.

Meanwhile, the inspector who had remained a passive spectator and had become jittery by now said rather plaintively, “Sir, this lawyer is right. If he were to report about the pictures taken by the journalist who had exposed his client’s face, to the Human Rights Commission, the commission would only take action against me and the journalist and not take any cognizance of this pick pocket’s offense”. The inspector who was an honest man and had been forced to resort to third degree methods to find out the truth had been often accused in the past by the Human Rights Commission of torturing people inside the police station and was therefore, scared of the commission and its powers to take away his uniform from him.

The bus driver and conductor were also becoming restless since they had impatient passengers to be ferried and therefore the conductor told the inspector, “Do you need us any further or can we proceed on our journey. If you need a statement, let us make it and go on our way”. “But, but, but…….” sputtered the fat man, “What about this guy putting his hand in my pocket?” he exclaimed. The inspector rather calmly said, “Sir, be happy that you haven’t lost your money and let it go at that. If you still insist on making a complaint I would have to only refuse to prepare an FIR”, he said. He then turned around to the journalist and said “As for you, let me have your camera and I shall delete those pictures that you have taken. The next time you want to make a scoop don’t ever come near my station”, he waged his finger at him as he plucked the camera out of his hands and proceeded to delete all the relevant digital images that it contained. Raja heaved a sigh of relief as he walked out of the station proudly with his lawyer. He would certainly reward the lawyer very well and also throw a party in his honour that night, he thought to himself.

The passengers in the bus who had been witnessing the entire incident with jaws gaping wide clambered back on to the bus, as the conductor blew the whistle and the driver moved forward. The fat man stood there all alone for the victim had become the victimized. Indeed when in the face of punishment, offense appeared to be the best form of defense.