How a Cop asks for a Bribe. Remembers his ‘Old Self’. And goes to a Temple.


They usually hum and haw and wait for you to make the offer. So when he finished the paperwork  and looked straight at me and  demanded, “Now get me the money”, I was taken aback.

Even in his civvies, he looked every bit a cop. He was tall, had flaccid, clean- shaven jowls and wore a mehndi -dyed moustache. He was lean, though he had the beginning of a paunch. I’d put his age at about 55.

Let me get you some water, I said, as I hustled to the kitchen and switched on the phone’s voice recorder. I had been asked for a bribe so blatantly for the first time in my life.   I was curious to know the secret of his brazenness but later, I found,  it was “normal” for cops to expect a little something when they come to verify your passport.

(A loose translation of the recorded conversation –)

Okay . Its all done. Hain. Chalo now bring the money.


You will get the new passport in two days. I will go now. Bring the money.

You are joking right? I will get you water.

(I go to the kitchen and the recording begins)

Its according to one’s shraddha. We run around in this heat . We don’t ask from everyone. For example, the old people we don’t ask from them. We serve them.

You wont call this a bribe.

This choti moti bribe . I don’t consider bribe.

So you saying if someone gives you a bribe to get their work done when its your duty to do so – its okay by you?

Aisa hai… listen to me. Actually even one rupee is also a bribe. But when someone gives with shradha its ok. If they don’t give, then also its ok.

But its bribe all the same no?

I will tell you one thing- I have seen the world. I have let off a lot of journalists.

Why did you?

They said they were journalists, so we let them go.

You should not have.

I should not leave them?

Of course , the VIP culture should end don’t you think?

But I have left thousands.

But whose fault is it?

Fault? Aree assa hi chalta hai .

But if it keeps on going like this, this country will go to the dogs.

Ok next time I meet a journalist, I wont leave him.

Not only journalist – even if there is a Minister you should not leave him.

I don’t leave any ministers also – Have locked up a few, but the thing is, with journalists we have a 24 hour association. You, me, court , lawyers. We all have a 24 hour association.

But whether a minister or a dhobiwalla you should not discriminate.

We discriminate, because you all also support us.

But why should we support each other. We should support the right thing no?

We have done a lot of good work for the country but no one writes. Whatever press-release we send, you will write exactly the same.

Wait, lets come back to the topic. I am shocked. You asked me for a bribe and you asked for it so blatantly. You did not hesitate. Why?

Listen to me. Leave the shock. I have only told you the reality.

No you said give me money. I am actually not interested whether you verify my passport details or not but I’m keen to know why you asked for money this way.

You know what ? Its like this. I am trying to tell you the reality. The issue is not of money.

But you asked for money. You don’t think it was a wrong thing to do?

Its actually a wrong thing.

You are accepting it was wrong?

Yes yes I accept.

But you know giving bribe is also a crime?

I understand. Your aatma does not allow you. That’s why when we meet a journalist we get so happy.

That’s what, I’m saying why do you discriminate. A minister breaks some rule you salute him , a rickshawalla you slap even before you ask the first question.

If a minister comes we have to salute him.

Why so? If he has crossed the red light. Catch him. Same with the journalist.

Aisi nahi hota

Why not. You work for the country or the Minister. ?

They have so much power.

But its your duty .

I have to do my Naukri. 

What will happen?

In one minute my job will go. You understand. In one minute.

See you asked for a bribe and I refused. So I don’t care if the passport is made or not, similarly you must do the right thing than worry about your job. Go complain about the minister.

Nahi nahi we have to be like this only. Have to salute only. I will tell you one thing.. ek akela chana.. kya karaga. …

But they also say each drop of water adds to make an ocean. Why care what others do?

You are saying the right thing. But the system, you know the system… its made like this only.

But shouldn’t we reject this system? Change it? You are a cop for a reason. You should not leave anyone who violates the law.

I know it all. But journalists gives us a lot of support.

So will that mean you will forgive their crimes?

Yeh sab chalta hai. Nothing happens you know.

I must say I am shocked by your attitude. I am shocked that you asked for the money so directly. Others are indirect, hesitant.

Chalo now lets end it here only.

You have to end it, not me.

But this thing I told you. I was only telling you the reality.

But I know the reality.

Ok so I got a very good lesson from you today. But I am only telling you the reality. Now listen to me. I am your older brother. The thing that I said please end it here.

But you have to end it right?

(Getting up). Finish this thing now. You are a very great man sir. I am not joking. But yes I was also like this earlier. I was in Special Cell for 14 years. Did a lot of work. Was like this only. Once we busted a gang and a lot of ammunition was recovered. Then people accused me of taking money and locking up innocents. But they were goons. Some of them had 22 murder charges against them. They still in jail. So I was like you but after some time I thought, I alone cant don’t anything. Then Sanjay ji I began to support people. You have brought those memories of myself as I was 20 years ago fresh today.

( after a long pause and a lot of shaking of the head)

You have opened my eyes. But now, now … you won’t talk about this even to your closest friends. You have to end it please.

Again, you have to end it. It ended with me when I said no to the bribe. But if you go from here and demand money elsewhere, it would not have ended.

So tell me, on which God do you want me to swear. I will swear right now.

You don’t need to swear. You just ask your conscience.

You have made me remember my very old self. You have provoked me to think.

(descending down the stairs and shaking his head)

Why didn’t I meet such people before. You made me remember my old self. But sanjay ji don’t tell anyone.. I am changed now.. I remember my old self.. my old self…but don’t.. 

(After half an hour his phone call)

Sir- I have just come out of a temple. I have sworn to the Gods. I wont forget the favor you did me today. It will never happen again. I have changed. I remember my old self again.. my old self.


2 Responses to “How a Cop asks for a Bribe. Remembers his ‘Old Self’. And goes to a Temple.”

  1. Noni Chawla says:

    Wow! If you have converted ONE dishonest policeman into an honest one, you have done a lifetime’s work.

    • sanjay austa says:

      Noniji.. It will be naive of me to assume he converted.. Its just that the next time he will be more careful and wont be so blunt. He obviously said all that just to placate me.

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