Bangalore, Jan 25: It was a nice sunny afternoon and me and my husband had gone to the flower show with high hopes yesterday; and why not my colleague had shown me pictures of the vibrant-coloured flowers that adorned the lush green landscape of the Lalbagh.
Our moods, however, was marred by one incident that continued to haunt us throughout the day.
At the baggage checking counter at the entry, I was stopped by a male security guard and was asked to open my bag for checking. I did see a few women being asked for the same and surprisingly, they relented.
But, I had made up my mind. I refused to open my bag and asked for a female security official for the same. All hell broke lose when I said that. The man was speaking in Kannada, despite requests of speaking in Hindi or English. All we could figure out was that he was asking us to go to the police standing there.
"Open your bag or get out", said the police.
From the attire of the police official, we presumed that he was highly placed and hoped that we would get a positive response. But to our disappointment, all we got was an indifferent shrug as if we were talking gibberish. Then came a broken statement in English,"all checking why you creating problems." To this, I clearly stated that all I wanted was a woman police officer.
Then came a 'gentle'man in a bright blue and grey trousers, from the security staff again, who was all ears to our issue. But the behaviour that was meted out on us was beyond imagination.
"You must be a terrorist"
The man told me point blank on my face,"show your bag or leave. You can be a terrorist. Are you planning a blast?"
Flabbergast at the allegations, my temper flew as my husband protested. I told him clearly that I wish to meet the director. Ignoring my demand, he said,"leave us your number and name so that if there is a blast, we will call you. Show your bag!" (As if a terrorist waits for the police to call and track him after he has planted a bomb!)
The last part of the statement had me spit fire. Though I gave my number, I asked him aggressively,"you cannot ask a male to check a woman's bag. This is highly unethical, humiliating, condemnable and violates a woman's privacy. where is the director's office? Wish to lodge a complain" He read my mood and directed me to the same.
Thanks to the horticulture department
My temper had mellowed down seeing the PA to the director (as the director was away on a tour to Delhi). I should actually be thanking him for helping me out after listening to me and my husband. He gave us the phone number of the organizer and asked us to contact him.
To our misfortune, even he was busy in a ceremony. We went back to the PA and demanded that our complain be submitted there and we be given a copy of the complain with his signature.
He understood our explanation and did the same, assuring us that he will look into the matter.
WE were satisfied with his answer and carried on with our Lalbagh tour, but there was one thing that haunted me till the end. How could women whom I had seen before me endure this outrageous act? There were Muslim women too, what if the officers of such level of audacity demand scanning or searching these women? Would the reaction be the same indifference? I think not.
It was not that the security was short of staff. I saw women constables flocking the area near the flowers, chatting and talking over the phone, but no one was there at the entrance. Below are a few pictures that would show what I mean, but of course we cannot miss out on the flower show also!
One can see that there are just men constables and security guards at the entrance.
The iron gate
This is exactly the place where I was stopped and asked to open my bag.
What are the women constables doing?
These women constables were spotted busy chit-chatting outside the main area of the show. None of them could be spotted at the entrance where security check is crucial.
Where were they?
Woman constables were not to be seen anywhere at the entrance, but here.
The flowers lifted my mood during the flower show at Lalbagh.
Roses to die for
The city of gardens was at full bloom during the flower show at Lalbagh.
Flower show with high hopes yesterday; and why not my colleague had shown me pictures of the vibrant-coloured flowers that adorned the lush green landscape of the Lalbagh.
'Rows of Happiness'
Flowers of various breed line the show area, presenting a very pleasing picture.