Indian police

I completed my tour guide training in December and my license was printed in January. Now the Ministry of Tourism office in Delhi asked me to bring a police verification certificate from my local police station. The Police verification certificate certifies that there are no legal cases against me. Actually they had provided a proforma also and I was supposed to just go to the local police station and get it stamped. I went to my local police station with that proforma but the police officer did not want to stamp that document. He asked me to go to the DIG office and apply for a character certificate there.

By mistake I went to the some other police office instead of DIG office. I went there and told a police officer about the certificate I wanted and then he asked me why I wanted this certificate and I explained that I had completed tour guide training and now I need a police verification certificate in order to get my license. After hearing that I was a tour guide, this policeman told me “Oh, so your profession is to make tourists fool and fuck them”. I was really angry to hear this, I said my profession is a tour guide and then he said that its similar.

After asking a few other questions he gave me right address of the DIG office. I went to the DIG office and I was really surprised to see the condition of the office. The office was so dusty and dark. I met the officer who issues the police verification certificate and he gave me a form and asked me a fill it and submit it along with other documents. I was told by my local police station to take care of this officer which means to give him some money, so I gave him Rs. 100. After taking this bribe he told me to contact my local police station after two days.

He said that he will send my application to my local police station and they will verify my residence and other documents and then they will send their report back to the DIG office. I contacted my local police station and my application had arrived at the local police station. The officer at the local police station asked me to bring all of my documents. After seeing all of my documents, he said that it was not enough. He needed a domicile certificate issued by the court which I did not have and I knew that it would have taken me over 15 days just to get this certificate.

I had given him a xerox of my passport also which was enough but he said that a domicile was necessary. Fortunately there was an advocate sitting in the office who favored me and said to the police officer that a passport is also equivalent to a domicile certificate.  Finally this police officer agreed to accept my documents after the advocate’s interference. He asked me to wait for a few minutes. After that advocate was gone he again started looking at my documents and after reviewing them for a few minutes he told me that they would send someone at my place within the next week or so and after verifying my residence they will send their report to the DIG office.

I knew why he needed one week of time. I asked him if I was supposed to give him something and then he said that such works are not done without paying. I was told by a few of my friends that I should give Rs. 500 to the local police station so I gave him Rs. 500 but this police officer started saying that Rs.500 was not enough as there were 5-6 people to take a share in that money. Finally we agreed on Rs. 700. After taking this money something happened that I had never ever hoped for. This police officer taught me the right way to bribe.

He taught me that I should always take care of who is sitting in the office and try to bribe when there are not many people around and never ever tell this to any other officer working in the same office, this was very valuable information. Actually I had told him about that officer in the DIG office who took Rs. 100 from me and this local police station officer said that I should not tell any other officer whom I have already bribed.  Anyways, after taking bribe of Rs. 700 he said that my documents would be forwarded to the DIG office by the same evening.

I went to the DIG office and then the DIG office said that they would send my documents to the LIU (Local Intelligence Unit) now. My documents arrived at the LIU office after a few days and when I went there, the same thing happened which had happened with me at the local police station. First of all they said that they would send someone to my home to verify my residence but when I asked them how much I was supposed to give, the officer asked for Rs. 500 and said that nobody would come to my place anymore and my documents will be forwarded to the DIG office by the same evening.

But something really funny happened while I was sitting in the LIU office. Actually I got a call on my mobile about my guest house inquiry and this officer heard me talking. After the phone call he asked me if I run a guest house also and I told him about my guest house and he asked me I had a restaurant in my guest house or not and I said no. And he asked me where do my guests eat and I told him that usually they go out and after hearing it, he seemed kind of sad and told me he would have loved coming to my place for a meal if I had a restaurant.

I told him that I lived with my family and we cook our own food and he was also invited if he wanted to have dinner with us and he said no, he was looking for some restaurant cooked hot chicken with whiskey.  I obviously said ‘No’ to him but I was really surprised how someone could be that stupid. Anyways, after bribing him, I left the office and came back home. The LIU office had told me that they would forward my documents to the CO office. The CO office is a kind of regional police office. I think there are 5 or 6 CO offices in the whole Benares district.

I contacted the CO office after two days and this office was also nothing better than the other offices I had been to. I met an officer at the CO office and he asked why I had applied for my character certificate. I explained my purpose to him and then he said that they had already checked my day time character but they did not know anything about my night time character. He said that- “Now we know about your day time character but we do not know about how many woman and prostitutes do you sleep with in the night or how many bars do you visit every night”.

He said the same thing to other officers also sitting in the office that they had checked my day time character but did not know anything about my night time character and after hearing it, all of them were laughing. One of them said they should check my night time character also. I was seriously shocked and did not know what to tell him. I could not believe that a police officer could talk in such manner. Anyways, I asked him check my night time character also and then he asked me to contact them after a week or so. I again knew why he needed to check my night time character and why he was asking for one more week.

I immediately asked him about the bribe and he also the said same thing which the officer at the local police station had told me that such works are not done without money. Anyways, I asked him how much and he said just give anything. I gave him Rs. 200 and asked when they would check my night time character and they said that there was no need to check the night time character and my documents would be forwarded to the SP ( Superintendent of Police) office by the same evening. I contacted the SP office the next day and the officers said that they will present me before the SP tomorrow.

I went to the SP office next day and I waited for the SP for an hour and finally I was presented before him. He just looked at my face and asked me why I needed a character certificate and that’s all.  I hardly got to talk with him a few seconds but just for this I had to wait for a hour at his office. I requested that he forward my documents as soon as possible and he was very nice with it. He immediately asked his PA to bring my documents, signed and stamped them and said that my work was done. After meeting him I contacted his PA and asked if I needed give something to him also and he asked me to come the next day and see if my work was done.

He did not want to take the bribe until my documents were forwarded to the next office. I went to the office again next day he said that he could not do it. I again contacted him after two days and this time my documents were already forwarded back to DIG office. Now I was sure that I was going to get my character certificate because all the formalities were done and I had bribed all the offices. When I went to the DIG office, the officer there said that they could not issue my character certificate until some other big police office stamped my documents. He also asked me to contact him after a week.

I again knew why he needed one more week. I gave him Rs. 300 and requested that he do my work faster and then he gave me the address of that other police officer whose office was also in the same building premises. He asked me to go this office and wait until the officer came and then return to inform him when this officer arrived. I went to this office, waited for hours in the terrible heat and finally this officer showed up after three hours. I informed the officer at the DIG office and then this officer brought my documents to this big police officer, got them signed and stamped and then gave me my character certificate.

This character certificate was nothing special but a really small piece of paper saying that there was no legal case against me. It seemed like they had not printed new character certificates for the year 2010 because the year mentioned on the paper was 2009 and the officer had to correct it by pen. I still think about all the craziness and corruption I had face,  the way they mistreated me saying that my profession is to make fools of tourists and fuck them, one officer said they did not know about how many women and prostitutes I sleep with…

I had to spend Rs. 1700 just to get this character certificate which should be given free of cost. I had to wait for almost a month and go to all those crazy police offices several times. Just to get this small piece of paper I had to go to DIG office>local police station>DIG office>LIU>CO office>SP office>DIG office>that big police officer’s office>DIG office. I got my character certificate and later I presented it to the Ministry of Tourism office in Delhi and got my license but when I think of all the corruption and those people working at police offices and those officers who approved my documents and my character certificate, it makes me feel like my character certificate was issued my the most characterless people on the planet.

Driving License in India

I have gotten my driving license about 8 years ago but I thought to write my experience at the RTO (Road Transport Office) office today. Actually my friend was talking about applying for a driving license today and it made me remember my experience and I decided to write about it. I was 20 years old when I applied for my driving license so about seven years ago. The RTO office was about 25 KMs from the city area and the city transport system crazy as it is now so I asked my friend to take his motorbike to go there. We reached at the RTO office and this office also looked as crazy as other Indian government offices.

The office was so crowded, full with people and animals, believe me there were dogs and cows sitting inside the office premises. People were chewing paan and spitting all over the office, the whole floor was red because of spit of the paan. There were touts (commission men) wandering here and there, looking for new confused face like I had. One of them came to me and asked if I needed a driving license and of course I wanted one so I told him yes. And then he said that he would help me getting the license but he wanted some money for it.

My other friends had suggested me to not go to RTO office to get license as fake licenses were easily sold in the market but I did not want to do any illegal work. I had met an advocate asking about the procedure of getting a license and he told me that I could get it even without going to the RTO office only by giving some extra money. My advocate said that money is everything at RTO office, if you spend money, you get whatever you want, otherwise nothing. But I had thought to go to the RTO office and let things go on in front of me.

So I told that commission man that I did not want his help but he kept coming to me asking if I needed his help and I told him again and again that I did not want any help. We were looking for any information center but actually there was no such place where people could get any information. We asked someone among the general public about the procedure and they told me to get a form first. We went to the form counter and there was a long queue. I was in the queue for a while and when my turn came, I saw a blind person giving the forms.

I was surprised to see a blind person working with such an important work of giving right forms and dealing with money. Actually government has a scheme of providing jobs to handicapped people which sounds fine but giving forms and dealing with money job to a blind person? Well, he was doing fine. He had different kind of forms for different kind of licenses and other works and he had organized the forms in such a beautiful manner that he knew where what kind of forms were kept. I asked him to give a form for a learning license, they issue learning license first and after one month permanent license is issued, and asked him the price for it. He said Rs. 10 and I gave it to him and came out of the queue.

I was looking at the form and I noticed that print rate of the form was only Rs. 2. I went back to him asking why he charged me Rs. 10 instead of Rs.2 and he said that he gave me a wrong form by mistake. He asked my form back and as I returned him the form, he returned my money saying that form for driving license was already sold out and he did not have it any more. The commission guy I had met earlier showed up again saying that it is true that the print rate is only Rs. 2 but it is sold for Rs. 10. I did not have any other option than paying him Rs. 10.

So I offered him Rs. 10 and he just did not want to sell the form to me. Finally I asked my friend to go in the queue and get the form and this is how I got the form. We filled up the form and went back to another counter to deposit the fee. The counter was supposed to get closed at 2 PM and it was only 1.15 or something and the counter was already closed. I saw a fat lady sitting behind the counter glass and eating something. I asked her why the counter was closed only at 1.15 and she said that it was not 1.15 but it was 2.15. I told her that it was only 1.15 but she said yes, 1.15 but in my clock, it was 2.15 in her clock.

The guy standing behind me asked me to show her some money so I showed her a bill of Rs. 20 and she opened the counter and this is how I was able to deposit the fee. Now it was turn of a written exam but I was a little bit concerned about it because there is not traffic rule in practice in Varanasi and I was not very well aware of them. I saw other guys offering some money to the examiner and we decided to go for the exam first and then give money according to how exam would go.

Exam was not tough and I was confident that I would pass it. After the exam, I went to examiner and asked him to see I was pass or not and he asked me to come later. But then I said that I had not given any money to him and I wanted to make sure that I was pass otherwise I would give some money to him. He looked at my paper and said that I was pass. I think he was the only honest person I met at the RTO, honest in the sense that at least he told me the reality that I was pass rather than asking for a bribe by saying that I was fail. He asked me to come after three days to see the result.

I again went to the RTO after three days and saw the result and I had passed the exam. Now I was supposed to get my learning license. The person giving the license wanted Rs. 100 but I bargained and finally I ended up giving Rs. 50 and got my learning license. After two or three months, I went to the RTO again to get my permanent license. They put me in an interview. The interview was not tough at all. They just asked me my vehicle registration number and a few other basic questions. Actually they are supposed to put all the applicants in a practical driving test but they just don’t do it.

After the interview, they asked me to come after a week to collect my license. I went to the office again after a week and had to bribe an officer again. The officer giving the license looked at my name and asked if I was a Bramhin and I said yes and then he said that he was also a Bramhin and in fact he lived closed to my home but we did not know each other. He asked for a bribe of Rs. 150 but I did not want to give this much. I started bargaining by saying that I was a student but he did not want to hear anything.

He said something really interesting that he charges Rs. 200 to other people but since I was a Bramhin, same caste as him, he was charging only Rs. 150 to me but I had also decided that I would not him Rs. 150 for sure. We talked for a while and I finally I gave him Rs. 75 and said that this is all I had. He took this money and gave my license but asked me to not tell anyone that I had given only Rs. 75 as rate for others is different. I am happy that I have a license but I still think about that blind man, that fat lady and that crazy Bramhin guy who gave me discount only because I was also a Bramhin.

Sometimes I think that I should have given some money to my advocate and get my license at home but then I think that if I have to live in India then I must need to learn to bribe and that experience at RTO at least taught me how to buy a government officer in India. I always think that I will not bribe any government officer but when it comes to getting some work done, there is no hope at all and I bribe again and again. But I hope that technology will change something, maybe not in my life time but someday for sure.