AS traffic police have stopped accepting scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from traffic rule violators, crowded signals in the city have become sites of heated exchanges and emotional scenes, as policemen press for the fine amount and those nabbed by them try to save notes of lower denominations, citing the cash crunch. After accepting the demonetised notes for the first two days, traffic policemen have stopped dealing in them and are accepting fines in either Rs 100 or Rs 2,000 notes. At busy traffic signals in the city, one of the three following scenarios unfolded after a traffic violator was stopped by police.
They tried to plead their way out by showing their empty wallets to the constables. Some of them requested police to accept a Rs 500 note, but the latter refused to do so.
Others agreed to pay a bribe of Rs 100, and were later heard lamenting about how they had to let go of the ‘last Rs 100 note’ they had. In several instances, traffic policemen let the violators go after accepting a bribe of Rs 100, a scaled down version of their initial demand of Rs 200 to Rs 700 as ‘legal fine’ for various violations.
Sushant Kale, 23, a student of Garware College of Commerce, was caught by traffic policemen for crossing the Sambhaji Bridge on his bike. Two wheelers are not allowed to ply on the bridge.
“I was not aware of the rule… I only had two Rs 100 notes, and I was planning to survive on them for the next three days. I told them that since I was new to the city, I should be let off with a warning, given the current cash crunch. But they only let me go after I paid a bribe of Rs 100,” said Kale, who hails from Karjat town in Ahmednagar. Two other bikers nabbed by traffic policemen said they had no option but to keep pleading with the latter to “forgive them”, as they had no cash with them and most ATMs were non-functional.
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“I had Rs 100 in my pocket in the morning. I was caught by police for stopping my vehicle on the zebra crossing in Nana Peth and I had to pay them Rs 100 as bribe. Now they have caught me again and I don’t have a paisa in my pocket,” said Shakir K, a resident of Kasba Peth.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic Administration) Preeti Tipare said since banks and ATMs have started dispensing cash from November 10, traffic policemen have been asked to stop accepting the old notes. She said that the traffic branch was keeping a close watch on the situation.
When queried about the bribes being accepted by traffic policemen, Tipare said, “Those affected should write to us and we will definitely take action against the policemen who are accepting bribes.”