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Be careful of what your T-shirt says

Special Correspondent
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Is wearing a T-shirt with the word “Police” an offence? You may think not, but the police did not take kindly to it on Monday.

An unsuspecting driver of a private car had a taste of the law’s heavy arm when he was hauled up for wearing a T-shirt, picked off the pavement, with “Police” emblazoned on it at the back and the insignia of the New York police on the front.

H.N. Chandrashekar, who had driven an invitee to the Indian Institute of Science auditorium for a function in which the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the chief guest, was bewildered when a group of policemen on duty accosted him asking why he was wearing a T-shirt with the word “police” on it. “How can you wear a T-shirt with the word police on it? This is an offence. Come to the station, we will record your statement.”

A constable said since Dr. Kalam was on the campus “we cannot take any chances ” and reported Mr. Chandrashekar to his senior who arrived in a Hoysala van.

Onlookers had their own take on the situation. While one saw nothing wrong in the T-shirt, another argued that the garment firm that manufactured the T-shirt should be questioned. A third said the IISc. campus was a high-security zone and imposters could cause problems.

Mr. Chandrashekhar explained to a senior police officer he had bought the T-shirt several months ago. “I cannot read English. I bought the T-shirt in a village near Arsikere from the pavement for Rs. 180.”

Eventually, he was let off with a warning not to wear the offending T-shirt again.

When contacted, Additional Commissioner of Police T. Sunil Kumar dismissed it as routine questioning. “Many incidents have been reported where conmen posing as police have duped people. The IISc. campus is a sensitive zone and the police might have enquired as part of their instructions.”

As for Monday’s incident, although the logo and the red T-shirt did not resemble the State police uniform, gullible people could fall prey. “Wearing police and defence uniforms or carrying logos or beacons in restricted areas are under the scanner,” he added. As for Mr. Chandrashekar, though he kept his shirt on all through the ordeal in more ways than one, he may not wear it again but will relegate it to a cupboard corner as a keepsake.

Lawmen see red over cheap T-shirt with the word police on it


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