“We wanted to kill ourselves as soon as we went home from the police station,” said Rinu Srinivasan, recalling the night of November 17 when she and her friend Shaheen Dhada were arrested for questioning the city’s shutdown following the death of Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
“Shaheen began to cry when a policeman told her that her uncle’s hospital had been vandalised. But I handled myself. I guess you find strength somewhere in such situations,” she said.
“Two women slapped me inside the police station in full view of the policewomen who were holding us,” Rinu said. However, having experienced a lifetime’s worth of trouble and media attention in a week, the Srinivasans are not eager to pursue the matter. “At that time, I didn’t say or do anything because I was still trying to understand what was happening. If I try to raise the issue now, a mob might gather outside my home,” she said.
The Srinivasans have now applied for exemption from reporting at Palghar police station every Wednesday. “The application will come up in court only on December 3. The case has now been transferred to Boisar police station,” said their lawyer Sudhir Gupta.
Shaheen, meanwhile, has left the city. “She and her family have gone out of Maharashtra,” said her uncle Dr Abdul Dhada.
With the absence of Shaheen, the action and attention has shifted quickly to the Srinivasans’ home, which was guarded by policemen from noon on Tuesday.
“I do not know why they (the policemen) came here. I can only speculate that they were posted here in anticipation of trouble following the suspension of the SP and senior inspector and the transfer of the judicial magistrate,” said Rinu’s father P A Srinivasan.
“On Sunday, I was not allowed to see Rinu at all. We finally came home at 2.30 am and woke up at 7.30 am to go to the court. We didn’t eat or drink anything and then I ran around arranging for bail. It is not a great experience, but we will not forget it either. On the positive side, people are now understanding the IT Act. The sad part is that we had to the victims,” he said.
Reluctant poster girl
In a span of 10 days, Rinu has gone from being a 21-year-old aspiring singer to giving multiple interviews a day, en route to a whirlwind trip to Delhi to participate in NDTV’s We The People. Since then Rinu has grown increasingly uncomfortable, one interview at a time.
The relentless attention has, however, brought a few pleasant surprises. On Tuesday, she received a call from Muzik Lounge School of Audio Engineering in Chennai to which she planned to apply and had an interview with this month. “The principal asked me if I was the same girl who was arrested. For a minute, I didn’t know what to say. But when I said yes, he said I need not come to Chennai for interview and they would admit to the school,” she said.
Originally from Kottayam, the Srinivasans have been living in Palghar for the past 23 years. The father and two children are trained singers, but Rinu plans to pursue it professionally. She was due to record an English song in Chennai for the private album titled One Roof, but had to postpone it. She can’t stop laughing as she watches her covered face on news channels. “Half the time, I do not know what to say (in an interview). I am now careful not to say anything that will get us in further trouble,” she explains.