An encounter with the Zurich police left Arasan questioning their attitude towards law and order.
As a student on a tight budget, I hunted for part time jobs extensively. However, I was not able to land one despite my best efforts. Luckily, a friend of my relative took over a kiosk in the infamous Langstrasseexternal link and I was able to work there. Langstrasse is the abode of most of the illicit businesses in Zurich. You will find people howling, lying down on pavements, squabbling, etc. It is a place where you can easily forget you are in Switzerland.
Soon the happiness of finding a job faded away. I found it very troublesome to work with people living on the margins of society. Our main clientele are sex workers, drug peddlers, homeless people, asylum-seekers and party goers. I would have never known poverty existed in Switzerland if not for this place. People beg for 10 Rappen (around 10 cents) from every passer-by to buy a single cigarette (since the last six months we have stopped selling single cigarettes). Shoplifting is common and I didn’t know how to control it. When I tried to confront the shoplifters they threatened to hit me. I was getting reprimanded for the theft by my boss. My safety was my priority and hence I developed a thick skin.
One fine day, things hit rock bottom. A gang of men entered my shop and brutally attacked another man. I was horrified by what I had witnessed. At the same time, I was cautious not to get hurt myself. After all, it was just not worth the salary they paid me. I was a mute spectator. After the gang left, the man who got thrashed stood up and threw a lollipop stand over me. Fortunately, I moved swiftly and escaped unharmed. Just as he stepped outside, another gang came and beat him black and blue.
I called the police. The lady over the line insisted I talk in German or give the phone to someone who did. That was another blow to me. In broken German I somehow managed convince her it was an emergency and shared the shop’s location. She alerted the nearby police patrol who came in two minutes. The paramedics soon followed and treated the injured man.
The way the police dealt with the case was outrageous. I showed them the footage of the entire incident recorded on the shop’s surveillance camera and asked them to file a complaint against all involved. They advised me not to make any formal complaint as I was not the target of the aggression. They also added there wasn’t any major damage to the shop’s property except for 40 lollipops.
I still insisted on a formal complaint as I was attacked. To my dismay, they totally defended the action of the attacker saying he was under the influence of drugs or else he would not have attacked me. Meanwhile my boss had reached the scene. He spoke to police in German and they left.
The police told my boss that cases like this end up with a fine and the effort of filing a complaint wasn’t worth it. I kept mum and continued working, waiting in silence for the day to end. A few days later, a regular customer of the kiosk told me that the attacker was a repeat offender and the police always dealt with him politely as he is a local. I was aghast, neither able to agree nor disagree with that comment.
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