How does one behave when visited by the CID?

February 18, 2010 at 8:54 am 18 comments

I have been visiting different parts of India for the past 8 – 9 years for conferences and also as part of numerous delegations. Fortunately I have always been granted visas that exempt me from police reporting although city restrictions have applied. We have all constantly grumbled about that but have learnt to live with it until both governments see reason and try and find a better, simpler way – maybe a Saarc visa that allows easier access across borders for business, culture and tourism. It would help create a better understanding and would drive the economic and social development of all countries in the region. Far-fetched? Perhaps.

Last week in Mumbai, something happened that has never happened before. I received a call from the reception desk asking me to go downstairs with my passport and papers because there were some gentlemen from the CID who wished to see me. I was a bit taken aback but of course the request could not be ignored so I sauntered downstairs and came face-to-face with three CID types.

In the meantime my colleagues Faisal Khan and Syed Ahmad had received similar phone calls and were trying desperately to get me on the phone. As Syed said, they figured they needed to let someone know what was going on in case they were taken away to some unknown destination by these guys. Paranoia? Maybe not. It is a dangerous world and agencies around the world are increasingly being given more and more powers at the cost of the rights of individuals.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, we met with the three gentlemen from the CID in the lobby and as they went through our documents, we chatted about the kilos of kaju katli we had bought that morning and the amount of last minute shopping we had done resulting in Faisal having to help me carry loads of packages back to the hotel. We laughed and chatted partly to overcome the nervousness we felt at being investigated. How does one behave when one is being viewed suspiciously by guys whose job it is to suspect anyone and everyone? Having said that, the CID guys didn’t quite know how to handle our nonchalant behaviour either. They kept trying to draw our attention away from the kaju katli discussion to the seriousness of the checking that was being done. They asked us why we were India, how long we had been there, when we were leaving, etc etc.

I thought they had asked enough questions so I started asking them some questions. Yeah yeah that is one way of dealing with a situation one has not been trained to handle :). I asked them if we had the honour of their visit because of what had happened the night before. They pretended not to know what I was referring to. I wasn’t going to let go so easily so I persisted “You know – the Pune blast!” They responded by saying that it had nothing to do with that and that this was just routine standard operating procedure. I smiled and said “Well, I have been coming to India on business for the past 8 years and I have never had the pleasure of seeing you or your colleagues before.” They smiled slightly and ignored my remark. After they had gone through all the papers and asked their questions, they thanked us and left. And that was the end of an encounter that none of us wanted to go through again. It was an uncomfortable situation at best.

What amused me was what Syed said next. He wanted to know why it was that in the movies the CID/CIA types were all depicted as good looking, dashing and glamorous guys when in fact in real life, they weren’t. Good question Syed! 🙂 I wouldn’t have minded a visit from a James-Bond type.

Entry filed under: Posts.

Playing tourist in Mumbai Should I change to this mode of transport?

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Adnan Ali  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:06 am

    LOL! Loved you counter-interrogation measures.

  • 2. yaser  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

    hehehe good one
    isnt there enough kaju available in karachi?

  • 3. Muneeb Iqbal  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Bless u .. u guyz still have guts to face bond type.. 😛 … Good thing is that the nightmare is over.. !

  • 4. Salman Munir  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Jehan Ara, you were lucky they asked you to come downstairs. Last time I was in India and that was around the Kargil episode. They stormed into our hotel room at 5 in the morning. And they were courteous at all. What happened afterwords, we would have one or 2 people always following us. So at one cinema, while watching some Indian flick my cousin got hold of the CID person and requested him to join us in enjoying the movie and dinner. That was fun 🙂

  • 5. Jehan  |  February 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

    @Adnan perhaps I shouldn’t have been so cheeky but I couldn’t help myself. Either one bends under the pressure or one tries to rise above it with false bravado.

    @yaser not kaju – kaju katli which is really out of this world. You can taste some when you visit karachi.

    @Muneeb well it was a distasteful end to an otherwise great trip.

    @Salman God that sounds scary. I would have been terrified if they had burst into my room. But you made friends with the guys at the cinema – that shows they have a heart or at least they are as easily won over by food as we are 😉 Greed exceeds all boundaries.

  • 6. Teeth Maestro  |  February 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hilarious encounter – I am now almost wishing that the CID type comes knocking on my door next time i visit Hindustan – to try if this “trick” works – but lets just pass up on the tempation – because Ive had my own share of the CID encoutners – since the CID did enough grilling with me at the Police station in Mysore when we were there for TEDIndia – 3 of the 6 Pakistani delegates had police reporting [why some got selected and some not behooves me]

    We did notice that the CID types were trailing us one fine day – caught him taking a picture of us quite randomly 😉 so i figured live-n-let-live – only glad he didnt round me up LOL as in the 4 day trip 1 day in and 1 day out were spent at the police station didnt want to add another day into that hall of fame

    Here’s to another round of Indian stories 😉

  • 7. How does one behave when visited by the CID? | Tea Break  |  February 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

  • 8. Yaser  |  February 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    yippie …. thats what i wanted out of this conversation …. 🙂

  • 9. Farhan Masood  |  February 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    hahaha I was with Salman in the trip that he mentioned !

  • 10. Farhan Masood  |  February 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    ohhh I love the Kaju Katti…. specially the ones from Haldiram !!! send one box to lahore immediately :p

  • 11. Nadeem Ahsan  |  February 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    The Indians were obviously spooked about what happened in Pune. So, they were probably running all around like headless chickens. You handled the whole situation really well.

    If I were you, I would think twice about going back…

  • 12. Jehan  |  February 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    @Awab I would never go if I was asked to go report at the police station. It is a ridiculous process that both sides need to abandon. I remember my dad once went for a day to Aligarh and he had to report twice – once when he got there and the second time when he was leaving. Totally absurd.

    @Farhan send a box of kaju katli to you in Lahore? Surely you are kidding!

    @Nadeem I was traumatized at what happened in Pune as were the rest of the Pakistanis. Innocent people being killed anywhere in the world is totally depressing and shocking. But I think our governments bark up the wrong tree in such situations. This wouldn’t happen if there was trust.

    I will continue to go back whenever i need to or want to. We as citizens should not change. Our governments and their processes need to.

  • 13. Yusuf Jan  |  February 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Jehan: I was feeling equally uncomfortable and insecure after the pune incident was reported. I was shocked to see the “uncontrolled frenzy” with which the indian media lashed out at Pakistan.

    I just expressed this is on my blog today –

    Creepy stuff – this desperate neighbors saga!

  • 14. Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry  |  February 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I haven’t read the other comments but it happened to me as well Ma’am back in 2008 when me and my colleagues visited Delhi and Chennai. Its a long story. Will tell you as we meet 🙂

  • 15. Nadeem Ahsan  |  February 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Looks like the CID in Karachi has also been pretty busy these days.
    Karachi is now Taliban Central.

  • 16. Ghalia  |  February 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    PHEW! go Kaju katli go!

  • 17. adnan  |  February 21, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Jehan, did you try the “Do you know who you’re talking to?” act? I wonder if it works as well across the border 😛

  • 18. Jehan  |  February 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    @Yusuf I know. It can be so unsettling and terrifying. I wish both our countries could get beyond this.

    @Ghalia the discussion regarding the kaju katli kept us calm and sane through the process

    @Adnan I don’t think they would have cared 🙂


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