A Khar media professional’s insistence on following traffic rules and refusal to kowtow to VIP culture led to him being hit on the back with a lathi and threatened with a gun recently. The victim, Ravi Shankar, was allegedly assaulted by an unidentified VIP’s security guards when he refused to run a red light to make way for their car and was not able to make enough space to enable them to do so. Shankar was waiting at a red light on his bike, when the driver of an SUV started honking behind him. Actually intimidating him and some other cars to move, the car inched very close to Shankar, who, when he asked why the driver was coming so close, considering they were at a red light, was hit on the back with a lathi.
This is a shocking incident, in a city which was once considered the most disciplined of all when it came to obedience to traffic rules. It also shows how the law of the jungle is taking over our roads where some people think they are ‘entitled’ to break rules, overtake others and are higher up in the pecking order when it comes to traffic on the roads.
While this is one incident that got attention because it was first posted on social media sites, we have numerous instances where VIPs and their hangers-on many times it is their support staff and not the VIP himself who throw their weight around on the roads. We also have many examples of persons who try to go through without paying toll, calling themselves some VIP or the other who is entitled to travel free without paying toll.
Dropping names, using influence when caught for traffic offences and trying to outshout cops has now become a matter of routine on our roads. Intimidating other drivers and wanting a ‘right of way’ is yet another feature. Evidently, ‘might is right’ in Mumbai. The police must crack down on this with aggression and urgency, and prove that traffic rules are the great equaliser.