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Beleaguered Traffic invites trouble
Beleaguered Traffic invites trouble

AGARTALA, June 25 (TIWN): The Traffic Department faced stark criticism from several quarters since the past few weeks as the traffic cops have declared all out war on the motorcyclists. The entire vigil was laid on the Agartala city area and its suburbs. Surprisingly, there is no incident of major road accident in the two wheeler segment in Agartala city in the past several weeks.According to a report of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal mission (JNNURM) carried out in Agartala alongwith ten other mission cities, average mobility of the city became as low as 8-24 Km per hour. The speed profile revealed that about 40 percent of the road lengths have speed less than 1 Km per hour.

Over sixty percent of the city's roads were congested and pedestrians do not have any space to walk, the report pointed out.

In what could be said repetition of the same old blunt story, the state Traffic Department started harassing motorcyclists in the name of accident control measure for the past two weeks. There is no initiative to check speed profile of two wheelers in the relatively more risk-prone National Highway. The trouble started since an order from the High Court of Tripura to enforce full helmet for riders of the two wheeler segment.

A Division Bench of High Court of Tripura asked the state government to ensure that ISI marked full helmets were made mandatory for motorcycle riders earlier this year.

The motorcycle accessories sales outlets of the city have gone out of helmet stock lately as the High Court order and an uncanny promptness from the traffic officials started largescale crackdown on motorcycle riders found wearing a helmet without the said mark.

"If the shops don't have a helmet, how are we supposed to wear one? Doesn't the bright officials of the government get this simple thing? I have been seriously delayed for my work today. And jobs are not that commonplace these days anymore, you see", Amal Chakraborty, a motorcycle rider said.

Chakraborty was 'caught red handed' as one of the cops eagerly looking for new prey, put it. "He didn't wear a ISI marked helmet", the constable said. A proud law-keeper, he couldn't answer how a bike rider  could manage a helmet if the shops didn't have one to sell.

"The High Court has ordered to wear them and we are doing our duty. If somebody has a problem, let them file a petition in the Court", he said.

Asked about the issue, a senior lawyer of the High Court of Tripura said, "There is a visible disconnect with implementation of the Court order and realtime situation in the market". "The honourable Court has given a most timely and apt verdict. It's upto the government to implement it properly. If the market is lacking in the product, the Traffic section of state Home Department should have approached the learned Court about it", he said.

A motorcycle accessory trader in Agartala city, who wished his identity to be kept secret, scoffed at the utter distress and said that the government only proved its failure in addressing crises by the situation. "We don't have a helmet, you see. And the TV channels and newspapers are flashing it every day. I don't see what great job they are doing in the government that they can't get time enough to see this problem", he said.

Gun totting TSR, and Tripura Police personnel were seen using AK 47, AK 56 and Self Loading Rifles (SLR) on every nook and corner of Agartala city till latest reports came in on Wednesday. Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors were found sitting cozily on plastic chairs with subordinates, mostly heavily armed TSR jawans and probationary police officials, supervising the 'operation'.

Each bike rider found without an ISI mark on his helmet was stopped, forced to undergo detailed enquiry about all documents despite all business they might have, even medical. They were handed over a fine receipt of Rs. 200; their plastic helmets seized. The cops didn't give any seizure receipt anyway, giving rise to serious question about the role of the Department since the High Court didn't give any directive about seizures.

"We are clear about it that an official of the state police with minimum designation of Sub Inspector should sign in the fine receipts. No TSR jawans must be supervise in the process of inspecting motorcycles", a high official of the state Transport Department said. He added that issues of nexus of the low level transport officials and motorcycle accessory traders couldn't be ruled out entirely.


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