'70 years after Independence,' says Kishore Singh, 'we're having to arm ourselves against a new enemy out on the roads to molest, burgle, attack and threaten.'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Two Taser guns were delivered to our house yesterday, courtesy of eBay; two more are expected today.
There is some difference between the two models, both from different manufacturers, but their essential purpose is the same -- to stun anybody whom the electric charge strikes, causing 'neuromuscular incapacitation', whatever that means.
Seventy years after Independence, we're having to arm ourselves against a new enemy out on the roads to molest, burgle, attack and threaten.
While I'm terrified of any kind of weaponry, I can't but feel empowered to think my wife, or daughter, at least have the capacity for causing injury should they feel threatened while driving in the city.
"We have our own arsenal now," my wife smirked to Sarla, her sometimes best friend, who had been hogging the evening with her tales of derring-do when chased by a gang of motorcycle-borne thugs.
Sarla looked at the Tasers dismissively. "You think they'll be of any help when you're attacked by goondas with knives? Hmph!", clearly showing her disapproval of our arsenal.
"You know that crime branch officers were at my house yesterday -- that's what real security means."
My wife was irritated because Sarla's adventure had made it to the newspapers.
Sarla was on the DND flyway connecting Delhi and Noida when two goons slashed her car tyres and threatened her because she ordered the driver to lock the car and remain inside.
The thugs thumped on the car windows, while traffic whizzed by, but Sarla sat tight, phoned her husband and the police, and managed to create enough of a ruckus for the editors of the city pages to take notice.
"Instead of thanking us," my wife griped, "she's gone and become a celebrity."
Sarla's strategy had been shaped by a similar episode that had occurred a few weeks earlier when my tyre was knifed at a traffic signal on what was previously the B R T road.
The car began to wobble so the driver pulled over, but the vehicle behind ours had seen the slashing take place, and prevented us from exiting the car to find out what was wrong, urging us to call the police instead.
For their troubles, stones and bricks were hurled at them by four of five lumpens, who then proceeded to mount the pillions of five motorcycles that had drawn up ahead of the car on one of the city's busiest stretches.
They departed after shouting venal threats at us. It was a while before 100 sent a team of policemen to help, and it was under their protection that the driver replaced the damaged tyre with the spare, before we drove off homewards, somewhat shakily and watchful against being attacked again.
Yet, here was Sarla milking the episode for all it was worth, even though my wife thought she had us to thank for her safety.
At any rate, my brother suggested we arm ourselves with anything that might be a deterrent for the city's slash-and-grab gangs, who have since managed to cause damage to a few of our acquaintances -- pinched laptops and bags being the most prevalent.
Which is why we've been practising with our Tasers, acting out Hollywood cop scenes in front of the mirror.
But I'm doubtful of the efficacy of these weapons to foil a car robbery because you need to touch the victim with the electric current for them to desist.
"We need better training," my wife told my son, "We need someone to practise on."
I think I'll take my chances on the road instead.