Routine Checking

I was looking for a topic for this post when I saw this program on Sony Pix - it was about the shooting of a short film. The film showed two constables "randomly" checking baggage on a train. During this they search a middle aged man, a woman in a burqa (veil worn by Muslim women) and finally a young man. Once the checking is completed, the young man expresses his surprise to his co-passenger, who is reading a newspaper, "It cannot be a coincidence. My baggage gets checked everytime I travel". The man says "It is not a coincidence. You are a Muslim". "But it is not written on my face that I am a Muslim", counters the young man. "No, it is not written on your face. But it is written on the reservation chart and the constables carry a copy of it". The film ends with a constable reading a marked seat number from a list and checking the baggage, calling it "Routine Checking". I would have liked you to watch the video but I was not able to find it on the net - so had to write a transcript here. Anyway, the name of the film is "Routine Checking" and so is the topic of this post.

I got to know about this incident when I came home to Mumbai this time. It happened in the apartment where we too own a flat. Another owner had let his flat out on rent. When this family - husband, wife and small kid - tried to move into the flat at night, they were stopped at the apartment gates itself. The persons stopping them were two other flat owners. Their reason - We will not allow a Muslim family to live in our apartments. Yes! I was quite taken aback at listening to this piece of reasoning and so would any person who lives in a relatively isolated, or shall I say secure, part of the society. This stand off continued into the night and the child had to sleep in a shop owned by another flat owner. Finally the person renting out the flat called the police at around 2 o clock. The police was able to ensure that the family gets into their house. The police can enforce, but, only the law and not mindsets. One of the days, the small child strayed indvertently into a neighour's house and get a beating a return. I am sure there must have been other smaller incidents - with two hostile neighbours that is only to be expected. The Muslim family finally relented and vacated the house within 10 days.

This incident leaves me in shame. It also leaves me thinking on the kind of area we have bought a flat in. What are the traits of persons who perpetrate such kind of incidents? Why do such things almost always happen in a particular part of the city? Is there any study which co-relates the people, their mindset and the area they live in?

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