Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vivekananda at a crossroads

Vivekananda at a crossroads

Saint is mute witness to jurisdictional limits of four police stations

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore



It's a strange confluence, an odd coincidence. The statue of Swami Vivekananda, who famously introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893 with the words "brothers and sisters of America," presides over this confluence. The Swami's statue stands on Bull Temple Road, just outside the Ramakrishna Mutt. The saint stands mute witness, at the limits of four different police stations.
While the Swami's statue stands in a traffic island within the limits of the Basavanagudi police station, the Ramakrishna Mutt and the footpath outside its compound comes under the Kempegowdanagar police station. To the south of the Ramakrishna Mutt is the Rao Bahadur Hayavadana Rao Road, leading to Hanumanthanagar. This road and areas beyond fall under the Hanumanthanagar police limits.
To the east of the statue, both Vani Vilas Road and Gandhi Nagar Main Road come under the limits of the Basavanagudi police station. The Bull Temple Road in front of the Ramakrishna Mutt, right up to Vani Vilas Road, comes under the Shankarpuram police station.
In short, the traffic island that the statue falls in serves as the demarcation point for four police stations. However, there is no dispute over the circle itself, and officers of all four police stations agree on the principle of give-and-take. "We have no major jurisdictional problems. This is a busy intersection, one that sees dense movement of traffic through the day. We understand that while the Bull Temple Road and the east side of it from the junction of Vani Vilas Road fall within our jurisdiction, the Ramakrishna Mutt, with its serene surroundings, falls within the Kempegowda police station. And the Kempegowda police station limits are rather peaceful," says Inspector C Gopal of Shankarpuram police station.
There is, however, the odd instance when there is a dispute between the different police stations—a famous instance was in 1996, when the film producer Chidambara Reddy was kidnapped and murdered. Reddy's body was spotted on one side of the road leading from the rear side of NIMHANS by an inspector who was riding his two-wheeler. When he later returned to the spot, the inspector found that the body had been moved to the other side of the road—the murder itself did not create as great a fracas in the city as the curious shifting of the victim's body.
Who could be responsible for shifting the body? The shift had caused the responsibility for the investigation of the murder to move from one police station to another—while the body was first spotted in the Siddapur police station limits, its shift to the other side of the road caused the investigation to fall within the jurisdiction of the Wilson Garden police.
Victims of crime often find themselves running between pillar and post in situations like this, as the jurisdictional limits of the different police stations are unclear.

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