Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Press reports are saying that the DM has made helmets a must for two-wheeler riders. I must correct them. The DM has done no such thing. He is only enforcing the helmet rule that came into effect long ago and which the policemen have failed to enforce.

How much fine should be charged, what punishment should be awarded are all there in the amended rules, the non-execution of which have from time to time drawn the attention of even the highest court of the land. A senior citizen, Mr Kalyan Ghosh has asked me to remind the cops that, according to traffic rules, even pillion riders are also bound to wear helmet—a rule strictly enforced in Kolkota. Kalyan Ghosh has raised another point: ‘What about three or four persons riding on one scooter or bike? No law, no rule permits that’. I told him: ‘Yes, that is very true. And it is not just youngsters who indulge in this dangerous practice but even some of the cops themselves are guilty of this lapse. The cops in many cases are seen going without helmets. No traffic cop has checked them.Why? It is for the top functionaries to find that out.
But there are, as far as I can think right now, at least two reasons for the laxity in the enforcement of the helmet rule. In the first place, the cops have used this helmet rule to extort ‘suvidha shulk’ from the defaulters. Why should they pay the full fine amount if they can get away with paying just an amount between Rs20 and 50?
But a bigger stumbling block is faced by honest cops when defaulters ring up their top contacts in political circles who intervene on behalf of the defaulters to get them freed. If the official is unwilling to yield to their threats, he or she is transferred. What happened to the bold woman police officer Shreshtha Thakur. posted in Bulandshahr District, is too fresh to be forgotten. All that she had done was to challenge a ruling-party functionary and fine him Rs200 for not wearing a helmet while riding a motor-cycle. She was transferred to Bahraich. She was not cowed down but said: ‘Don’t worry my friends I am happy. I accept it as a reward for my good work’. How many police officers would be as daring as Shreshtha is not difficult to guess

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