As Hyderabadis scurry to remove tinted films from car windows, questions are being raised over ‘Operation black film’. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo reports
Here’s how you can make some quick way in the next few days. You’ll need a sharp blade, a spray can with water and a cloth to clean residual gum from car glasses. Choose a spot on any road where cops aren’t close by and wave at any car that has windows with tinted films. Since October 25, traffic cops have issued challans to more than 10,500 people as part of ‘Operation Black Film’. Irate vehicle owners will slow down; within minutes you can remove the tinted films and pocket Rs.300 to 500. Traffic cops have barred anyone from levying more than Rs.100 to remove the films but who cares?
Neha M.K, a communications professional, shelled out Rs.750 to remove tinted films. “I gave my car to a small car showroom in Madhapur at 10.30 a.m. There was a long waiting list and I got my car only at 7 p.m.,” she says.
Sensing the possibility of making a neat sum, young boys have jumped into the fray in Secunderabad, Jubilee Hills and even Necklace Road to do the same job. Minister’s Road resembles an open trash can with tinted films littered on the street. Car accessories showrooms on this lane are working overtime removing the tints, charging Rs.100 to 400. On the opposite side, young boys have lined up to do the same job for Rs.100 to 500. “If there’s only a film, we’ll charge Rs.100. If there’s gum beneath the film, you have to pay another Rs.400,” a boy tells a car owner.
Vehicle owners, meanwhile, raise concerns of privacy and protection. Priya Kaur, an MNC employee who is waiting as the tinted films are being removed at a store, says, “In spite of having had 30 per cent tints, on some occasions I’ve had people staring into the car or following me on bikes. I don’t know how safe it will be to drive without tinted films at all.” While the rule is meant to guarantee security by way of allowing visibility and thwarting instances of kidnapping, women feel vulnerable without protective films. Vrinda Prasad, celebrity relations manager, MAA TV says, “On some days I drive back home late evenings after audio launch functions organised by our channel. Tinted glass ensures privacy and protection. I’ve had a few bad experiences while driving.”
The complaints are not limited to women driving at night. During the day, facing curious glances at traffic signals, being teased and followed are common irritants. “Ever since I removed the tints, I feel every move of mine is monitored. I feel I am visible to everyone on the road. The very next day after I got the films removed, a guy followed my car for a few kilometres in Jubilee Hills,” says Neha.
When asked about such irritants women drivers will have to face, additional commissioner of police (traffic), C.V. Anand says, “Other metros have already enforced the Supreme Court rule. We cannot show any discretion. Not implementing the rule will amount to contempt of court on our part.”
Is there a way out or will we get used to the rule with time?
Meanwhile, if you have two hours to spare and some patience, you can remove the tinted films yourself with a small blade.
What the rule says:
Initially, the lack of clarity made vehicle owners assume that films allowing VLT (visible transmission of light) up to 70 per cent can be retained. The clarification issued by Hyderabad Traffic Police states, “No one can paste any type of film on any of the glasses of a vehicle. The allowed VLT of 70 per cent and 50 per cent has to come in the glass from the manufacturer. If anyone wants to apply any tint they have to get their car glasses changed with VLT of 70 per cent for front and back and VLT of 50 per cent for side glasses.”
Why are tinted glasses of VLT of 70 and 50 percent allowed and not films?
Films reflect light making it difficult for the police to see people in the vehicle from certain angles. Tinted glasses do not hinder the view.