How does one behave when visited by the CID?
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.
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