Monday, 7 April 2008

Harassed by the Traffic Inspector

Around a week back, my friend and I had a strange encounter with the traffic police. It would have been almost funny had it not been for the Policeman’s serious disregard for the welfare of the commuters.

It was around 8 pm in the evening, a busy day, as is the case on all weekdays, with lots of traffic. I was driving back home from work. A friend was with me and we had just passed Krumbigal Road when we were asked to pull over by the Traffic police at the junction of Krumbigal Road and RV Road. This junction – Siddaiah Circle/Lalbagh West Gate circle does not have traffic lights and there is a traffic police regulating traffic. When I was asked to pull over, I thought it was for a routine check of my driver’s license, car insurance and other documents. The traffic inspector’s assistant asked to look at my license and when I gave it to him, he asked me to get down and talk to the traffic inspector. When I walked over to talk to him, he asked me, without any preamble, if I would pay the Rs. 100 fine right away or if I would prefer to be served with a notice and to settle the whole matter in court. I was really surprised as I had followed the traffic rules to the “T” and had not violated any rule as far as I knew and I told him so. He then informed me that the fine was for jumping the signal.

You can imagine my surprise and disbelief when there are no traffic lights in that circle and the traffic police was literally hiding in a far corner regulating traffic. I was pretty sure he had not signaled for the vehicles to stop because he was nowhere in front of/near my car and there were many others along with me who drove past the circle and who weren’t asked to pull over. Perhaps, this was my unlucky day since I was driving close to where the traffic inspector was signaling for the vehicles to pull over for checking.

My friend and I tried reasoning with the inspector that no one would jump a traffic signal if there were regular traffic lights, that the traffic police who was regulating the traffic was too far from the view to be noticed by the drivers and that it was dark and he wasn’t even wearing the fluorescent vest that would make it easier for others to spot him. All this fell on deaf ears and the man was busy writing out a receipt for Rs. 100 and was only concerned with collecting the money.

Meanwhile, while I was arguing, I saw a college-going girl on a two-wheeler being asked to pull over while a number of other vehicles behind her zoomed past and were not asked to stop. Now there was no doubt in my mind that I had not violated any traffic rule - the traffic police giving the signals was nowhere in sight and many other vehicles were driving past. I brought all this to the notice of the traffic inspector but he just wasn’t prepared to listen. He was only concerned with writing receipts and collecting fine.

If this is not harassment and a money-making racket to keep the police department cash registers ringing and unashamed fleecing of the hapless drivers in full public view, I don’t know what is. Police are supposed to uphold public interest. If this is how the entire Police force operates – corrupt, insensitive to the public and more than anything, a public menace, I have absolutely no trust in them and would want nothing to do with them in future. It is very unfortunate that India has such corrupt public support systems. Isn’t there any way out of this? Isn’t there something we can do to stop this menace, cut down corruption and re-instill confidence in the system?


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Shantala said...

Finally, there is a traffic signal at this junction now. But, I have to say this - this is the first signal I have seen where you don't know which traffic signal to follow
for which way!

Orra said...

I remember reading an article that government is spending ~500 million to improve the decision making capabilities of the citizens.

haage summane... said...

I know this :) happened to me. He asked me to come to him when there was a red light. I had to choose between a fine for not obeying or jumping a signal. Jumping a signal it was.