NEW DELHI: Three men ferociously beating a youth with lathis in the heart of South Delhi, with a crowd of at least 50 watching the ‘fun’, stopped in their tracks when a white haired lady stormed through shouting, “Stop it!” She rushed to the men and tried to separate them from the boy, pushing at them without regard for her own safety.

The moment was enough to break the frenzy. The attackers expecting no resistance from anyone, least of all from the youth being beaten, became defensive. And this was enough for the youth who seemed badly injured to drag himself away with what appeared to be a fractured leg.

Sonia Kidwai was the good samaritan. She was passing by the posh South Delhi colony Safdarjang Development Area when her driver said that some man was being beaten by men with lathis. “Why didn’t you tell me,” she said and made the driver turn the car around to the spot where she saw the youth being badly beaten as a silent crowd watched.

She got out of the car, despite her bad knees and weak eyesight, and without fear or throught of her own safety pushed through the crowd with the single intent of saving the man’s life. She got in between the men with the lathis and the youth they were hitting, pushing at them while shouting at them to stop. “I had no idea of who he was, no idea even of what the assault was about. “I don’t care and I don’t want to know,” she told the attackers when they tried briefly to offer an ‘explanation’, “you cannot hit him with lathis, you cannot be the law.”

Kidwai did not let the crowd be either. Having stopped the attack she turned to the passive crowd who had been watching the assault without lifting a finger and shouted, “What’s wrong with you people, you are standing here watching a man being attacked, maybe even killed. Are you human beings? What are you? Is this what you want our country to be? How can you?” The shamefaced crowd looked down and started dispersing in the face of this anger from the one tiny woman who had singlehandedly stopped what was clearly a brutal attack. Not a man amongst them had moved to stop the three attackers. Not a man supported her while she tried to stop the attack.

Were you not scared? Sonia Kidwai had to think about this question from The Citizen and smiled, “Actually not at all, not even afterwards when the reaction should have set in. I was so angry at the men standing around as if they were watching a tamasha, and the residents of this posh colony who did not even step out of their homes to help the youth, what have we come to.”

Well she made sure that those who could hear her did. “You are not humans, you are taking videos of this and not raising a finger to help. I don’t care what he did, call the police, but to beat him with lathis that can kill him, how can this be allowed,” said Kidwai. The attackers ran off, the crowd dispersed but all will remember the lady who intervened with such courage. She has no idea what it was about, all she knows is that he was probably “not a thief as then someone would have said something.”

“If it was just a fight with everyone using fisticuffs, okay, I would have driven on. But this was an attack with lathis, furious and relentless, the man could have died and I think his leg had already been broken,” Kidwai said.

Her courage had impact. One man came up saying he had tried to stop them but they had attacked him. An elderly man was standing near her car when she was going back. And obviously stung by her words started mumbling something. Kidwai admonished him for not speaking up to which he murmured something about, “having issues.” She replied, “We all have issues, we all have problems, what has that to do with saving a life, and speaking up?”

What indeed! If every citizen of India was Sonia Kidwai mobs would not find it so easy to attack innocent men at will. Her assistant through this all was her young driver Arun, a thin short young man who stood beside her through the fracas. Also without thought of the risk to himself. And although she did not know it then, called the police. Except that the police did not arrive, as he spoke in Hindi and obviously 100 did not really think his was a status worth responding to.