BENGALURU: While vendors and shopkeepers being bribed by policemen to keep their establishments open post the deadline is not new, lately, irate shopkeepers have been grumbling about being forced to shell out increased amounts, even to keep their shops open till the deadline. While earlier, these bribes would be between Rs 50 and Rs 100, now in some areas, shopkeepers spend up to Rs 500 to keep the area's policemen away.
“If we don't pay them, they will find ways to shut us down permanently. This is our only source of income and we cannot afford to take any risks with our livelihood,” says Madhav, a push-cart vendor who works in and around Indiranagar. When City Express visited some establishments on Indiranagar 100-feet Road,
policemen could be seen visiting shops and hotels collecting money and leaving them to run their business.
At a renowned coffee shop on this road, just after handing over cash to a constable, the cashier said, “This is a daily routine for us, even though we close right on time every day. We have no choice but to pay a minimum of `50, and this is collected from every shop on the street,” the cashier said. “Constables come every day on bikes or in Hoysalas. Depending on the number of policemen present, the amount varies. On some days, in order to keep the shop open post the deadline, we have to pay up to `500,” said Narayanaswamy, a tea vendor in HSR Layout.
The amounts vary depending on the items offered. For cigarette and tea vendors, bribes are paid in the form of free tea and cigarettes. “A lot of policemen stop by while on night rounds, and for me to stay open, there is no choice but to give them things for free. I even manage to stay open till 3am on some days by paying the police,” a stall owner in HSR Layout said.
However, City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar, said that for those vendors who follow the law and stick to their timings, there is no reason to pay bribes or fear the police. He insisted that anyone facing harassment from policemen could come forward and lodge a complaint with higher officials. “Strict action will be taken against constables who engage in bribery or harass vendors who are doing their jobs. Depending on the situation, they could also be suspended if need be,” he cautioned.