India is impossible to caricature. No matter what our comedians and political cartoonists try, they will never be able to outdo real life. This is the country where vegetarians held a pork party to annoy Muslims, only to realise that no one cares. Where governments are altering the sizes of the already massive statues they have planned to make sure they will be more massive than other gigantic statues being built by other governments. Where the whole nation paying attention to a wink from a movie seems like a welcome relief, rather than a commercial distraction. And where police personnel, when their weapons jam during an encounter, shout out “thain thain” to scare the people they are pursuing.
Yes, it actually happened. There is video evidence, and you have probably already seen it by now. But in case you haven’t, or need a reminder, here it is:
Now, admittedly, it happens quickly. Sub-Inspector Manoj Kumar finds his pistol jammed in what the Uttar Pradesh Police told the media was an encounter, while pursuing miscreants in Sambhal. Kumar also yells “maro maro, ghero ghero” (hit them, surround them). And in the immediate aftermath of the event, the police explained that he did so because his gun had jammed.
This brings up a host of questions, from why he felt the need to mimic the gun to whether this is standard practice for the Uttar Pradesh Police to how ANI somehow got its hands on these videos, and even to what Nancy Sinatra might think of the whole thing.
But maybe the only real question was why Kumar said thain thain and not, say, dishoom dishoom or dichkaon dichkaon, which are much more widely accepted as the sound of guns.
This went unanswered, but the police later offered many more explanations of what was going on, even announcing that Kumar would be getting a bravery commendation. A senior officer told the media that Kumar’s smart thinking despite the jammed pistol meant that he remained a part of the encounter, identified his position to prevent friendly fire and put more pressure on the fleeing miscreant, a man named Rukshaar who is also known as Bhatija. There is no word yet on whether Bhatija felt more pressure because a man was yelling thain thain at him.
But wait, there’s more. A report by ABP News revealed that Rukshaar/Bhatija had already been arrested by the time the thain thain video was shot. ABP then speculates as to whether the entire video was a re-enactment just to get the police department some publicity.
That’s right. It is now possible, if ABP News is to be believed, that Kumar not only yelled thain thain on camera, he did so as part of a re-enactment for a publicity video for his department. And it worked! Not only did the entire country find out what the Sambhal Police had done, he even got a commendation for it. Never mind the fact that, according to this report, nothing actually happened.
How’s that for a metaphor for India right now? Authorities behaving in a ridiculous manner, offering remarkable post-facto explanations for what they did, awarding themselves bravery commendations, and the media then revealing that maybe all of it was fake?
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