Image Credit: Shutterstock

Imagine the scene: You are a car thief (I accept you are not one, dear reader, but pretend that you are). You attempt to mug a cab driver sitting in his vehicle. Hand over your wallet, you say, and add, "and while you are at it, don’t forget to give me your mobile phone too." So far so good. All according to plan.

And then the script is torn up and the actors in the drama begin to ad-lib. To start with, the cabbie throws you out of the car and shouts for help. A dozen passers-by respond. They come forward to help the cabbie. You think things have gone too far, but maybe you could still go home with a profit and to this end threaten the good Samaritans with a knife.

Unfortunately, that’s as catnip to cats. There is no telling how people respond to threats. In this case, the crowd takes matters into its own hands and begins to attack you. The knife, unlike a six-shooter in western movies, is no equaliser. In fact it enrages the mob and you are beaten up (still imagining and pretending, my friend, I know you wouldn’t let a fly hurt you). A helmet is involved, and fists too.

But as often in such cases, there is an element of confusion as other vehicle drivers stop to see what’s happening, and those farthest from the action begin to shout out advice. More people gather, many of the later arrivals unclear about which is the thief and who merely a pedestrian on his way to a movie. There’s enough chaos around for you to escape. And you do.

Can you imagine what happened next?

The thief, RJ, to give his initials (he is from Bengaluru, not that it matters), then lodged a complaint at a police station stating that when he tried to rob a cab driver, some 30 or so people attacked him, inflicting grievous bodily injury. There’s a wonderful word for this in English (originally in Yiddish): Chutzpah.

There are stories of burglars who have sued homeowners for interrupting their burglary. One burglar won his case as the homeowner who shot at him had to pay for criminal recklessness. But these are mostly in the US, and the laws may be different in Bengaluru. Recklessness may not be a crime.

Whether ‘RJ’ wins his case or not, he has done enough to become a popular hero in his city. How long before someone writes a book based on his adventure and someone else (or maybe the same someone) turns it into a movie with Tom Hanks playing him and possibly Meg Ryan the cabbie (in the interests of gender equality)?

Read more