Forced to pay Rs 200 for releasing bike, 38-year-old woman calls up top cop to informs him about the bribery incident, leading to suspension of a sub-inspector and blacklisting of towing vehicle

A docile housewife, who was forced to cough up a bribe of Rs 200 for releasing her scooty towed away by the traffic police, unseathed a deadly weapon her inner voice to inflict grievous wounds on the corrupt cops and their aides.

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Riding back home on her just-released vehicle, the idea of registering a complaint with a senior traffic officer struck Lalithamma. The 38-year-old woman decided to call the Additional Commissioner of Traffic, M A Saleem, on his mobile and narrated the whole incident.

Lalithamma, who was out shopping in the area, had parked her vehicle in a no parking zone and upon returning she along with other vehicle owners found that the vehicles had been towed away.

She rushed to the Chikpet traffic police station. And when the woman requested the towing vehicle attendant to release her vehicle, she was asked to cough up a fine of Rs 300, for which no receipt will be issued.

In her complaint, Lalithamma claimed that she negotiated with the attendant identified as Natraj to reduce the amount.

"Natraj called the assistant sub-inspector Venkata Muluvaiah and after a brief talk with him in hushed tones, Natraj agreed to release her vehicle for Rs 200, without issuing any receipt.

The other vehicle owners gathered around and followed the same procedure to get their vehicles released by paying the bribe. Acting on her complaint, an inquiry was initiated and Muluvaiah was summoned for questioning.

During interrogation the sub-inspector confessed to the crime following which was suspended and the towing vehicle was blacklisted.

"This is not only an incident of dereliction of duty, but also of corruption, the biggest menace of our society. We are getting lots of complaints from people who are harassed by towing vehicle officials. We have decided to take strong action against them," said Saleem.

Initially the traffic department had around five towing vehicles of their own and when the wrong parking problem increased with the increase in the number of vehicle in the city, they were unable to handle the situation.

According to sources, a few traffic officials decided to cash in on the situation and outsourced the towing services to private players. Majority of the towing vehicles belong to police officials or their kin.

The towing vehicle owners have even formed an association with the help of officials. They had an agreement with the government earlier to pocket 70 per cent of total revenue and the rest goes to the government. This malpractice was brought to the notice of the authorities concerned by the then DCP Saleem.

In 2006, the officer recommended the government to cancel the contract, but the association approached the High Court, which directed the home department to chalk out an amicable solution.

After careful consideration, the home department finally drafted a resolution that the towing charge of Rs 300 will be equally divided into three parties the traffic department, on duty traffic cop and the owner of the vehicle.