A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, 50 bikers got together near a village for a rally. Then one of the village cops went full Singham on the riders, assaulted the organizer, and dragged them all to the police station. He allowed them to go after 7 hours, but not before breaking plenty of laws that were his literal duty to uphold.
Oops, my mistake, it happened last Sunday, in our very own Milky Way, around the star called the Sun, on the planet called Earth, the country of India, the state of Telangana, and the city of Hyderabad. The bad cop is Mr. Gangadhar, the good guy is Mr. Mazdayar, and this is the story of why Indian motorsports is in the sad state that it is.
Before the retards among you start generalizing, let me clarify that not all cops are bad. In fact, most policemen are nice people who just want to go about their jobs, go back home, and live out their lives like the rest of us. In my travels around this country and beyond, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them.
However, it would be naive and dishonest of you to claim that all cops are good. There are many of them corrupted by power, destroyed by greed, and bought by money. Some of them can’t be blamed for the things that they end up doing, they are stuck in a difficult, demeaning, thankless job that pays peanuts, don’t be too hasty in judging their actions.
Chapter 1: The Setting
Our story beings on September 11th, 2016. It was a sweet, overcast day with a pleasant breeze and the flavor of rains. After being postponed a number of times for a number of reasons, the fifth round of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC), one of India’s oldest motorsport events, was about to begin. It was organised by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), along with a Hyderabad based motorsports management company called Racekraft, whose CEO is Mazdayar K Vatcha, our main protagonist.
The rally began around 9.30 AM, with the participants doing the transport stage. Once that was finished, it was time to thrash their bikes on the 1st competitive stage, which was a section roughly 16 kilometers in length, snaking its way through rural Hyderabad. By the end of the day they were supposed to go through 4 competitive stages, and 1 more transport stage back to the hotel.
Stage 1 went without trouble, and the riders had to immediately push-off the Stage 2 after that, with no time allotted for service. A few of the riders crashed in this stage, and had to be taken away for medical support. Some others simply didn’t feel like punishing themselves another time, so left the venue to get back to ordinary life. This happened in the coming stages as well, which meant that the number of riders kept getting smaller as the rally progressed.
Stage 2 began on another roughly 15 kilometer section, and the riders were at it again. Once done with this, there was half an hour of service time available, which helped the riders get some rest and get their wits together. No problems till now.
And then it was time for Stage 3.
At this point it is important to understand that rally bikes are loud by design, and are being pushed to the maximum on the circuit. What you end up with is a lot of noise, multiplied by the number of riders. Generally there are marshals, officials, photographers, and volunteers all around to track to make sure the locals face as little pain as possible, but it’s far from a perfect system.
Unknown to the participants, there were already villagers gathering on the track, unwilling to let noisy bikes trample around in their backyard, prepared to do whatever it takes.
The reaction of the villagers is completely justified, what came next was not.
Chapter 2: The Beginning
The local police station was informed, and thus entered our main antagonist, Circle Inspector of Manchal Police Station, Mr. M Gangadhar. He listened to the complaints of the locals, and went out to the circuit in an attempt to investigate. It was around this time that the third stage was about to begin, and things were about to get uglier than anybody would’ve anticipated.
A few riders began the stage, which took them flying through a series of fields. Towards the end of the course, a few kilometers from the finish line, the first of the riders off the line, pushing it to the limit, trying to find those precious few seconds, encountered our cop, signalling them to stop, along with a few other locals.
At this point, it is important to understand the nature of such encounters. Rallies are generally held on public roads, roads that are not really roads, but just random dirt trails and jungle tracks, with people living around them and using them on a daily basis. Most of the time these people have no issues with the participants, their bikes can be heard from miles away and are easy to dodge. Many of the locals try to stop the riders just to ask them what the hell is going on, to take a few photos, or to high-five them. Many of the cops do the same, simply being unaware of such an event being held in their jurisdiction, even with all the necessary permissions being in place.
From the rider’s perspective, the locals can be a distraction and can cost them time. They are good people and want to be polite, but at the end of the day they are racers who just want to win. Many a times the riders will ignore such requests to stop from people and cops, sometimes because they didn’t see them in time, at other times because they felt it wasn’t worth the time lost.
So the riders who were so close to finishing the stage naturally ignored the cop and the locals, which must’ve felt extremely humiliating to Mr. Gangadhar, to be disrespected in front of the people he’s supposed to police. His reaction to that was to simply forget what his job was, and take any means necessary to stop anybody who came next.
The unlucky few who saw him after that moment, saw him flinging stones at them and carrying an unholstered weapon, angry, abusive, out of his mind. Many were stopped, questioned, and asked to stand around while the inspector waited for the organizers to come to him, which was another bad idea as we’ll soon find out.
While this was going on, villagers had erected road blocks around the middle of the track, stopping many of the riders from going any further. These participants had to ride all the way back to the service area, being unable to move forward.
When the organizers saw that there was something wrong, the riders who hadn’t yet begun the second round were told to stay where they were. Mr. Mazdayar had ridden out at this point, met the local at the halfway mark, and tried to reason with them to get things sorted. This didn’t work out, and the locals didn’t allow him to move forward, which meant that he had to double back and take the longer route to go and speak to the cop. This meant that Mr. Gangadhar was left standing by the road for hours, with nobody coming to apologize to him, nobody to deflate his anger.
By the time Mazdayar reached him, it was already over.
He asked the riders who he had stopped, and Mazdayar to leave their bikers in the middle of nowhere. He had commandeered one of the service vans, put everyone in there and drove towards the service area. Once there, his rage was simply uncontrollable. After a few words, he decided to forget all common decency and start doing something there’s absolutely no justification for.
Chapter 3: The Insanity
This is a pivotal moment of our story, one which we’ll revisit a number of times to understand the behavior of our hero and the villain.
It does not matter how big a cop you are, it does not matter how much power you have, it does not matter what your reasons are, you cannot hit another human being, abuse them, and expect there’ll be no retaliation. Please don’t tell me “This is how things are”, or “You don’t understand the complete situation”, or “The guy was asking for it”. When asked, Mr. Gangadhar’s own explanation for his behavior was hilariously unconvincing.
“He wasn’t complying.”
What did you want him to comply to? All I hear you tell him are abuses about his mother.
At this time, it would be opportune to appreciate the behavior of Mr. Mazdayar. If I was being assaulted in full public view, with cameras recording the complete proof of my innocence, I would not have been able to maintain my composure like this guy did. He could’ve gotten angry like the cop, but he kept his cool and behaved like a man should.
What followed this incident was 7 hours of rubbish from the cop. After convincing the participants that they’d need to come to the police station, with their bikes, sign a statement, and then go away, he held them up there from 2.30 in the afternoon till 9.30 in the night. What was even more disgusting was the way he went about wasting everybody’s time.
Mazdayar made it very clear from the beginning that if there was any problem with the permissions, he was the one responsible, and he’ll handle whatever the cop had in store for him. Mr. Gangadhar on the other hand, had some very different ideas. His opinion was that the riders were the ones responsible, because it was them who were overspeeding on their territory. Mazdayar will have to take the heat, but there’s no way he’ll let go of the others.
At this point, it’s important to note that there were a few women participants as well, who were detained at the police station with the rest without the presence of any female constables, something which is required by law. Not only that, they were held at the police station beyond the time permitted as per the law.
And so began the ordeal that would get more and more idiotic as the time progressed.
If the riders had been rash, they could’ve been fined and let go. If the rally was organised without permission, a case could be filed against the organizer and all could be sent home. Logic dictates that any such case could require at least some basic investigation before being filed, so the addresses and numbers of everyone could be taken and that’d be the end of it.
This is where our cop displayed an exemplary level of skill as far as wasting time is concerned. His first request was for the sheet with all the participant details on it. There were 50 names on it, and he demanded 50 riders be present in front of him. When explained that some had crashed, others were hospitalized, and few had gone home, he couldn’t care lesser.
Get all 50 here, or we have no deal.
Since it was a physical impossibility to entertain his request, a few hours were spent getting him to understand how the world works. By this time it was late evening, and he finally conceded that all 50 riders could not be present at his whim. What followed was an even bigger display of his skill to abuse authority.
Now he wanted the riders who were present to stand in line, with their bikes, in ascending order of their participant number, for a photograph.
You already have all the participant details from the organizer, what good could a photograph taken in low light with a whole army of people in it do? More importantly, what’s with the OCD? Why do they have to stand in any particular order?
As expected, this wasted another hour or so, while not doing anything even remotely useful. By this time the participants have had enough, and they all pooled their resources together to find some guy at a higher position than Mr. Gangadhar who could talk some sense into him.
Someone got lucky, and his senior arrived at the scene. The first thing he did was let the girls go. The second thing he did was get the riders to sign a small statement and let them go as well.
Wasn’t too hard, was it?
Chapter 4: The End
Now think about this, many of the participants hadn’t had lunch, simply because they didn’t want to ride on a full stomach, and thought they’d get it done after round 2 of the circuit. Most of them had left their phones and wallets in the service van, just to save them from damage while on the bike. They ended up spending hours stuck in a room, with a few snacks and stuff available for food, given by the people who had luckily decided to keep their money with themselves.
Long story short, this entire drama could’ve ended in an hour, two tops. The only reason things got dragged on the way they did was because one man wanted to get back at several others because they inadvertently stepped on his big ego. He had no right to do this, he had no reason to do this, but he did it because he could.
The participants were finally let go after 9.30, with a few missing their flights back home, others trying to find their bikes that were forced to be left in the middle of nowhere by the policeman.
The reason I waited 2 days to publish this article is because I wanted to know everyone’s side. When asked if there was a problem with the permissions by Sabhyasachi Biswas, a rider who works with the Indian Express, Mr. Mazdayar said this.
“We had taken all the necessary permissions, and this being an FMSCI regulated event, we had also undertaken all necessary precautions for safety of the riders and also anyone around it. The reason why this event was organised outside the city is because rallies are supposed to be organised off the road and also away from populous areas for safety concerns. The only problem was that a small section of the track came under Manchal Police Station’s jurisdiction, and we had no idea of knowing that because such areas are not demarcated. We had every other necessary permission.”
He also said that a Senior Inspector from Narayanpur went along with him to the race venue in the process of obtaining the permissions, as he was very curious about what kind of event this was, and gave the permission after checking everything was in order.
On the other hand, when Sabhyasachi asked Mr. Gangadhar about his behavior, he denied all wrongdoing. He denied the fact that stones were thrown at participants, he denied the fact that he was carrying an unholstered weapon, and he denied the fact that lady constables were absent throughout this fiasco. None of this is surprising, what’s surprising is the way he reacted and the threatening language that he used.
“All this is false. Let them say. Let them come forward and say all this.”
Chapter 5: The Aftermath
The next day, all newspapers were filled with ignorant news stories that made it look like the bikers were at fault. As it always happens, they had chosen to ignore all the video evidence, and instead plastered the statement of LB Nagar DCP Tsfeer Iqbal all over their pages.
“All the bikers were riding bikes at speeds more than 150kmph and the frightened villagers tried to stop them. But without giving them a damn, the bikers threatened them and proceeded towards Tallapally. Some villagers alerted the police. The Manchal police sent a team to the spot but they refused to stop the race.”
This statement is as funny as it is false. 150 kmph? What proof do you have of that? This is the favorite weapon of almost all bad cops I’ve heard of till date.
“You are on a bike I’ve never seen before, you are wearing stuff I’ve never seen before, hence you must be going at 5 million kilometers per hour.”
Do they even realize what 150 kmph feels like, especially on a slush covered dirt track with giant potholes and stones? Saying unsubstantiated things without evidence is supposed to be the job of a layman, not a DCP.
All in all, it was one hell of a wretched day, saved only by the single-handed efforts of one man. Mazdayar kept his cool after being assaulted, handled the situation more or less alone along with the riders, and took all the blame in the end. Of course some part of the blame lies with his organization, but my respect for him is for the way he carried himself after the insanity began.
If you’ve ever wondered why our motorsport athletes get no support, no sponsorship, no recognition, welcome to their world. Not only do you have to be competitive and strong, you have to handle bad cops, unhelpful officials, and negative publicity towards your sport.
For some reason that I’ve never understood, Indians are scared of bikers. Maybe it’s because they feel riders have too much fun on our roads, maybe they feel jealous about the fact that they have to wait in a traffic jam while the bikers fly past, maybe it’s just a dumb fear of the unknown. Some cops in some cities routinely harass bikers in full gear.
“You are wearing a fancy helmet, hence proved you were racing.”
Yes there are a lot of annoying squids out there, but they are as much of an irritation to you as they are to us. Don’t generalize all bikers, like we’re not generalizing all policemen.
Maybe we nee to create a bit more awareness about bikes, bikers, gear etc. and more importantly, with the right people. Such incidents help nobody, waste everybody’s time, and cast a dark shadow on an already helpless culture of Indian motorsports.
This article would not have existed without the help from Alex, a friend who participated in this rally and gave me the details.