Here’s a new experiment of the Panchkula police. They are getting car owners to paste stickers on their vehicles with their phone numbers in order to track them down when the cars are parked wrongly or are blocking another car’s way. However, the drive which began from Sector 9 on Sunday seems to have not gone down well with local residents, particularly women who flagged privacy issues in public display of private numbers. Although Panchkula Police Commissioner A S Chawla claimed that the stickers were helpful in locating the car owner easily in case the vehicle is causing obstruction to the traffic, Ranjeeta Mehta, a resident of Sector 16 who is also Senior Vice-President of Haryana Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee, said that the idea would be misused by “bad elements” to harass women.
“Police can maintain the record of phone numbers in their registers but phone numbers should not be displayed publicly. This drive should be stopped,” said Mehta.
Local councillor Bhavna Gupta told Chandigarh Newsline, “ Not just for women, but even for men, this could have safety implications. This situation can be misused in any way,” she said.
Gupta added that the traffic police must simply tow away vehicles that are obstructing traffic, which is how the problem is solved everywhere in the world.
On this, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Munish Sehgal said, “Yes, I agree this issue of privacy is there. But women can give numbers of men in their house. In the market today when two women came, we told them that they can give the phone number of any male in the house, like one gave number of her father and the other gave number of her husband. The idea is just to reach out to the owner of that vehicle.”
The police gave out stickers to 15 such vehicles in Sector 9 on Sunday. Sehgal said that the traffic cops were noting down the phone numbers in their register too so that people might not display wrong phone numbers.
Panchkula Commissioner Chawla said that the drive would help in the long run as well for parking in housing complexes. “ In Panchkula, the parking space is quite less. If a vehicle is parked behind somebody’s vehicle and he needs to leave urgently, rather than looking for the owner in the shops and waiting for 15-20 minutes, the person can just call up at the phone number. Usually, in such situations, people enter into brawls or heated arguments as well. We would introduce it in housing complexes too,” he said.
The ACP (Traffic) said the drive would help in tracking the owner if a vehicle is stolen. “ If a vehicle is lying abandoned for four to five days, we can easily track down the owner who may reveal that his car was stolen,” he said.