Reporters on the Job

NOT GUJARAT'S FINEST: While reporting today's story about ethnic tensions and justice in Gujarat (this page), the Monitor's Scott Baldauf stumbled on an example of the challenge.

"I was in a zone of Baroda where a stone-throwing riot had just occurred the night before, chatting with a vegetable seller who lived on the border line between a Muslim and Hindu slum," says Scott. "The interview stopped though when two Muslim women came by to argue over who had started the riots.

"Just as my companions, two local peace activists, were defusing the situation, we heard a shout from behind us: 'What's going on? Who are you people, and why are you causing this ruckus?'

It was a policeman, Jaynti Motibhai, badge No. 1186, carrying a loaded rifle. It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon; he was absolutely drunk. Now we had to calm down the cop, who proceeded to assure us that he was in charge of this area. We assured him that we were assured, and promptly left the scene.

"But as we were heading back to our car, through the Muslim slum, the cop stopped us. 'It's not safe to go there,' Officer Motibhai told the activists, both of them women. 'The men in there are animals, they'll attack you, abuse you, and then who will come to save you?'

"If Officer Motibhai is the thin blue line between order and chaos, the activists commented, then Baroda is in trouble."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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