- Bribe Fighter
- 10 years ago
- 3976 views
I received admission for a postgraduation course in International Journalism at London Metropolitan University. While not keen on leaving for London initially, the fact that the University and ********** Foundation gave me a full-time scholarship, the Mahatma ********** Scholarship, for my studies made me decide to leave for London.
The only flaw was that my passport was about to expire and had to be renewed if I intended to make my trip two months later. I immediately applied for passport renewal at the RTO office at Coimbatore, where I resided then.
I received a call ten days later on the landline number of my house in Saibaba Colony, asking me to report at the local police station for passport verification.
Well familiar with my activist traits, my father handed me Rs 200 with a warning: "Show your face at the station. Someone is bound to indirectly ask you for money, so give the person Rs 100. If the person is not satisfied, then hand over another Rs 100." I told my father I would do nothing of that sort. He said matter-of-factly: you will then never get your passport nor leave for London. I marched off to the station.
I produced photo-copies and original of my house ration card as proof of residence. One constable signed on the form. He was surrounded by a couple of other cops. I asked them if I could leave. They merely looked at me for a minute after that without saying anything. My father's words rang in my head but I just refused to listen. I went home triumphantly and returned the Rs 200 to my father.
He said that I was digging my own grave for refusing to part with such a small sum. I told him to wait for a month and then speak. Forty days elapsed and there was no sign of the passport coming home. It was September 15, 2011 by then. I started panicking all the more since I had to join my university before October 8 if I intended to study in London. The course was slated to commence on September 25 but we were allowed to join within two weeks.
I called up the local police station to find out what happened. One cop told me my passport had been despatched long ago. I called up the RTO office at Coimbatore and was told me that they had not received any passport bearing my name. I called up the police station the following day and another cop answered that the passport was still lying at the station and they would despatch it that day. I was in a rage because it was 45 days since I had entered the station for verification. I was not even sure that they would despatch it that day too.
I could see all my dreams collapsing. I was also getting mails from the University asking me to confirm I would be present for the scholarship party! The consultancy in Bangalore which helped me out with admissions was also repeatedly asking me about the passport since it had to be sent for visa.
I knew I had to take some desperate action. My stint in journalism ensured I knew how it had to be done. I dragged my poor father along. Of course, we had murderous arguments throughout our trip with him blaming me for being so idealistic and refusing to accept the ways of the world. I told him it would be such a farce if I get a scholarship in the name of Mahatma **********, who stood for honesty and integrity, and pay a bribe to get a passport to study the course.
We went directly to the Police Commissioner's office and was told to visit the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who also took care of passports. I presented the whole story to the woman officer there. She made one phone call the saibaba colony station and asked them to bring the passport application immediately to her office. I saw my expired passport and application land at her table within an hour!
She then attached an urgency note to it and ensured a cop personally delivered it to the passport office. She asked me to give a written complaint in which I named the cop to whom I went for verification 45 days ago and the cop who lied the previous day that the passport had been verified. She called the inspector of the station and asked him to issue a memo to both of them.
Meanwhile, my passport was despatched the same evening by courier and reached my house the following day. It was rushed to my consultancy and they fixed an appointment with the visa office at Chennai. Thankfully, I received the visa on October 5 and left for London the following day.
I stood my ground and did not pay bribe but I had to undergo much agony for it. I could not join college on the day everyone else in my batch did; I had to run from pillar to post to get the passport; and the last month of my stay at home with parents turned out to be a very tense affair sitting at home and waiting each day for the courier bearing the passport to arrive!
Though I was happy ********** inside that I did not pay a bribe, it also left my disillusioned as to how much one has to struggle if one refuses to dole money to the bribe-taker.