Mumbai: Did Malwani police try to right a wrong with a lie?
Orlem, Malad residents - who are campaigning against wrong-side driving - rubbish police's claim that their vehicles were regulating traffic
Malwani Police have been caught on the wrong foot in its attempt to justify cops driving their official vehicles on the wrong side of the road, as mid-day had reported yesterday. Responding to this paper's queries at the time, Deepak Phatangre, senior inspector of Malwani police, had claimed that police vehicles go in the wrong direction in order to clear traffic jams. However, this theory has been rubbished by eyewitnesses and local residents.
This paper had highlighted in a front-page report how two police vehicles were seen going in the opposite direction to regular traffic on Marve Road, Malad, allegedly in an attempt to avoid getting stuck in traffic. What's more, seeing the police break the law seemed to have emboldened many auto drivers and bikers, who were seen following the cops in the violation.
What action did they take?
A senior citizen who had recorded a video of the two police vehicles on the wrong side on Sunday, said that the police were merely trying to avoid admitting their mistake. "There were two-wheelers and autorickshaws ahead of, behind and beside the police vehicle that was driving on the wrong side. The police did not stop or take any action against the other motorists, as they too were violating the same traffic rules," the elderly man alleged.
Orlem residents, who have been conducting a campaign to curb this menace for months, are very upset that even the so-called guardians of law are breaking traffic rules. Allan D'mello, 35, wrote to this paper: "I don't agree with the policeman stating that the cops were trying to clear the traffic jam. The big flaw in their theory is that there were many other motorists and rickshaws following them in the wrong lane - why didn't the police take any action against them?"
mid-day had reported on October 3 how a series of accidents prompted Malad residents to go on the war footing to stop this menace. The locals even met Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic) to highlight the issue. Kumar said, "We have instructed policemen to follow traffic discipline and rules."
Despite repeated calls, Malwani police's Senior Inspector Deepak Phatangare was not available for comment. A senior officer from the police station told mid-day: "We create a diversion on Marve Road during the weekends, as the traffic gets choked by the high influx of tourists visiting Aksa beach. There is nothing wrong in creating a diversion to regulate traffic. We often see such diversions on the Western Express Highway during peak hours."
Input by Samiullah Khan
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