In a move that is leading to severe harassment of motorists in Hyderabad, senior officers in the traffic police wing have been instructing their subordinates to issue more challans to motorists every day.
Field-level sub-inspectors are being issued with charge memos if they book less than 50 cases of traffic violations in a day. As a result, the field staff is focussing more on flagging down motorists and issuing challans rather than concentrating on traffic regulations. At some junctions, an incongruous situation can be seen where a group of constables are busy signalling motorists to pull over, while totally neglecting their duty of regulating traffic.
Traffic officers confide that many of them have received memos from higher ups saying that their performance was under par if they booked below 50 cases a day. Faced with no other option but to comply with the orders, the policemen are forced to slap penalties even for minor violations. This action is undoubtedly filling the exchequer but is also doling out pure harassment to motorists. Instructions to increase number of cases booked is cleverly concealed in oral instructions issued on wireless sets too. The targets for imposition of fines are not referred to directly in writing.
The officers, though, do confide in private conversations that they are facing the flak from commuters. They also agree that what they are being forced to do is annoying even for themselves.
“Many commuters argue with us as to why we're stopping vehicles and verifying documents, ignoring our duty of clearing traffic congestions. We have no answer,” a sub-inspector said. He feels some officers take pride in collecting more amounts of fines than the previous officer, and that has become a trend.
While the traffic policemen feel helpless, the commuters complain of indiscriminate imposition of fines. Two days ago, the Begumpet traffic police took away the table of an agent selling books on roadside in Brahmanwadi. “When I told them that the table, which was on an internal road, didn't obstruct traffic in any way, they scribbled a challan of fine,” the agent, Narsimha, recalls.
With orders from the top to improve performance in enforcing the law, such instances are common and they may increase despite adverse reaction from people, a police officer observes.