January 31, 2022 1:39:49 pm
Following recent incidents of errant behaviour on the part of the Bengaluru traffic police which led to a public outcry, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has directed the city Police Commissioner and DGP to take necessary action in this regard.
While Assistant Sub-Inspector Narayan R was recently suspended for kicking and assaulting a physically challenged woman after she allegedly hurled stones at the police, in another incident, a viral video on Saturday showed the traffic police towing away the vehicle of a delivery executive. Following this, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ravikanthe Gowda B R ordered an enquiry and suspended the operations of the towing vehicle and the ASI involved was temporarily taken off duty.
According to the rules, the authorities have to make an announcement before towing a vehicle away, but in this case, the police allegedly took it away without warning. In the video recorded by passers-by, the delivery executive is seen running behind the vehicle and pleading with them not to take it away. The locals said the executive then got his motorbike back.
Calling a meeting of the officials concerned on Sunday, Bommai asked them to revisit the present guidelines related to towing of vehicles. Another meeting in this regard will be convened on Monday.
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Twitter user Lakshman Karkal reacted to the incident saying, “It has become utter nonsense. It is a loot nothing else. I complained about the pedestrian crossing problem at the signal junction. No action has been taken till today. But the towing business goes without control. @blrcitytraffic is least bothered about pedestrians.”
Slamming how the traffic police treats citizens, another Twitter user Praveen Nimbalkar said, “This towing business is clearly a racket – many a time the citizens are at fault as well. But since one makes a mistake exploiting them or harassing them is not in the right direction- time @blrcitytraffic restore sanity.”
The police usually tow away vehicles parked in no-parking zones to ease traffic movement in the city. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the same stipulates that the traffic police must first announce the vehicle’s registration number and then if the owner of the vehicle does not turn up, they can proceed with the towing. This, however, isn’t followed in most cases.
The task is often handed over to private players who are entrusted with the removal of the vehicles, while a traffic police official imposes the fine. The private firms, in turn, deploy vehicles and staff for the purpose and an official of the rank of traffic ASI will be present in the vehicle.
For the towing itself, the violators will have to pay extra money. Vehicle users in Bengaluru have, in many instances, complained about towing vehicle staff acting like thieves by removing the vehicles even when the owners are nearby or from places where there is no sign that prohibits parking.
For instance, if a two-wheeler is parked in a no-parking zone, if the violator pays the fine on the spot, the amount would be Rs 1,000. If the vehicle is towed, then the fine amount increases to Rs 1,650. In the case of a car or three-wheeler, the fine remains the same but the towing charge would be Rs 2,000, and in the case of a medium transport vehicle, it would be Rs 2,250, which would further go up to Rs 2,500 for a heavy goods vehicle.
The towing charges go to the private player. According to a police officer, the private player would be given a target to “catch” a certain number of vehicles each day, which would increase the revenue of the traffic police department and also help the private player. “It is an open secret that all traffic police stations are given targets to collect fines from vehicles. A good amount of money comes from such ‘no-parking’ areas,” the officer said.
The Bengaluru city traffic police has collected a staggering Rs 360 crore in the form of fines between January 2018 and August 2021.
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