Chennai: The gruesome death of a 13-year-old moped rider under the wheel of an oil tanker at Redhills on Friday has triggered a fresh debate on the slackness of the city’s traffic police. While the truck driver has been arrested and charged with ‘negligence’ because he allegedly failed to see the mishap in his rearview mirror and “at least attempt” to sop his vehicle, many wonder why no traffic cop spotted and stopped the kid riding the moped with his 18-year-old sister on the pillion for buying groceries.
Jayaseelan, the kid riding the moped, had reportedly tried to manoeuvre through a gap between the oil tanker and the edge of the road when the bike skid on loose gravel and he fell under the truck’s rear wheel. He died instantly while his sister Sonia escaped with injuries. The truck driver had not noticed the mishap and stopped only after others on the road raised alarm. Police took him into custody, charging him with causing the boy’s death due to ‘negligence’ as he failed to monitor his rearview mirror and avoided the mishap.
While it’s anybody’s guess-and that includes the traffic cops who registered this case and the magistrate who would be dealing with the trucker’s ‘negligence’ sometime later-how driver Muruganandham could have noticed the kid going under his vehicle’s rear wheel (not the front wheel, mind you) and “at least attempt” to avoid the tragedy, many citizens have raised the question as to how the little boy had taken the moped out on the road with his teenage sister on the pillion for buying groceries for home. “How did the parent allow it, knowing very well it’s not only illegal but also very risky? Where were the traffic police? At some money-spinner corner indulging in useless checking of the vehicles just to fleece the drivers, one must assume”, said prominent rights lawyer Sudha Ramalingam.
She felt the traffic police on duty at that area at that hour should be booked for ‘negligence’ rather than the truck driver. The kid’s father too should be hauled up for sending him on the moped, said the senior lawyer.
Former SP (security) M Karunanidhi agreed there is “serious dearth” in the prudent deployment of police personnel for essential duties, such as traffic management, while a large segment in the state police force is wasted on non-essential jobs such as VIP security and bandobust work-it’s common to see policemen (and women) stand by the roadside waiting for long time for a minister/CM to pass by, whereas there is none among these VIPs facing any extremists’ threat unlike Jayalalithaa who was ‘decorated’ with z-plus security due to LTTE threat.
“It is necessary for the police to sternly deal with traffic violations as proper enforcement would lead to drastic fall in violations on the road. But now the police mostly seem nervous in taking any confrontationist measures when faced with violators out of fear they would have to face pressure from all and sundry, such as lawyers and political heavyweights, to withdraw the cases and let the accused go”, said Karunanidhi, who retired recently as SP (Security).
The ideal solution, according to him, would be to issue the (fine) challans to the violators and not engage them in any argument and fight.
Lawyer Sudha Ramalingam too stressed on the importance of enforcement to bring down violations. “See the fate of the helmet rule and you will understand that the police are the first culprit. And why are they blind to the familiar sight of an entire family of 3-5 persons riding a two-wheeler through busy traffic? And remain indifferent when a motorist comes on the wrong side of the road and some land up without a rearview mirror?”
The seasoned lawyer recalled an episode during a recent trip to Paris, France. “I met a very wealthy person who arrived on his bicycle. I was told he could not drive the car because he received multiple tickets for traffic violations”, she said and wondered if there was “even one such case of someone losing driving licence due to repeated offences here”.
And then, what about the civic authorities who cause fatal mishaps by being indifferent to the dangerous potholes and surprise-speed breakers on the roads? The tragic death of kid Jayaseelan at Redhills had led to protests by the locals there alleging rash driving by truck drivers on that stretch and the poor state of roads. Several roads in Chennai, and elsewhere in the state as well, easily qualify for such angry public protests....