September 18, 2009

I Witnessed

a crime. An hour ago.

I walked out of my office debating within whether I should pass another forty-five minutes there for a free dinner. I walked past the few auto wallahs who won't go anywhere and a few others who would if paid twice, and walked towards the nearest bus-stop. Without paying attention to his friend, a man ran behind a bus that I had missed. He stopped near a shorter man, placed one arm around his shoulder and together they walked back.

We have the man, his friend, and the short man, all apparently blue-collar.

As they came closer, I noticed the man tightly holding the short man by the collar and the short man, with a plastic cover in his right hand, walked along without protesting. I thought that they all must know each other, that the short man must have stolen/taken something, perhaps that cover, from the man and his friend. Surprisingly none of the three was barely audible even as they passed me.

The three went down a rocky slope and I thought that they may be walking towards a larger party of interest. It was dark, few streetlights, even though it was only metres away from a bus-stop, and I didn't get a clear view. Suddenly the man and his friend surrounded the short man and started beating him up. My reflex told me to flee.

I started calling them but they wouldn't stop. I was too cowardly to go down the rocky slope and warn them or stop them physically if required. There was nobody else in the bus-stop so I called a couple of other men who were passing by and told them that a couple of guys were beating up another guy. One of them walked along his way unhurriedly and the other stayed back looking here and there.

In a minute the man and his friend started kicking violently. I still couldn't see the short man, who was neither crying aloud for help nor in pain. I reluctantly tried to get closer and fortunately someone else approached from another direction. (He perhaps works in the nearby bank located below the slope.) Glad to have some concerned company, I started down the rocky slope and the man and his friend ran away in the opposite direction, away from the road into the bushes. I didn't try to catch them, didn't run behind them.

I saw the victim lying on the ground, his cover and his cap thrown a few paces away. I looked around for signs of blood and only saw that he was missing his right arm below the elbow. Did he lose it now? Was he like this when I first saw him? I couldn't recall and I looked around for the piece. I went closer and asked him loudly whether he was hurt, whether he would like to go to a hospital. He slowly bent his leg, still lying there, and I was relieved that he was alive.

I pulled out my cell-phone but couldn't decide whom to call. I couldn't recollect any ambulance numbers in my phone book and didn't want to call the control room. I told the fellow still standing near the bus-stop to call an auto. He turned towards the road looking for an auto and turned back to the scene of crime. In the meantime my concerned counterpart, a louder middle-aged man, walked to the victim and asked him who those two-three men were and why they beat him. I corrected him that it was two and once again told the fellow standing near the bus-stop to call an auto. The victim slowly moved his feet a little more and then brought out the right arm that had been underneath his head. I couldn't see it before in the darkness and now think that he may have tried to protect his head with it.

The middle-aged man asked me who I was. I was afraid that he may be blaming me to be an acquaintance of those two brutes, blaming me to be an acquaintance of the victim or blaming me for not acting like the young man I am. Another man, perhaps an assistant of the middle-aged man, came closer to us while a woman stood near the side-gate of that bank. I once again told the fellow near the bus-stop to call an auto. The middle-aged man shouted at the victim to pick up his cover and cap and get up. As he tried to, I asked the victim whether he could walk, and the middle-aged man's assistant recognized the victim as an acquaintance and helped him stand. The victim asked me if I had a vehicle. I didn't. The middle-aged man then shouted at the assistant to bring the victim along and so they went on their way towards that bank.

I stood there cursing myself and then climbed up the slope. "They would have killed him had we not been here," the fellow near the bus-stand said. We were there, I was there, and they still beat him. We did nothing, I did nothing.