The traffic police are openly extorting the public in the name of checking law breakers. My family was on Sunday held at 10:30 P.M. for tresspassing a NO ENTRY sign kept in Rynjah Market. Daily commuters through Rynjah would testify that after 9:00 P.M., cars are usually allowed to go through Rynjah market as a bi-way. In any case, for the public to be sure, the traffic police must note the timing of no entry on the sign itself. On being held, we were told to pay a fine of Rs. 300. When we inquired under which section we were charged, the Officer-in-Charge cited Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act,1988. When we further asked to be shown a written copy of the section, the officer slapped us with another fine of Rs.300 basing it on Section 179 of the Act. Thereafter we were taken to the police station and shown only a ‘menu-like’ outline of the sections. We later paid the fine on the road where a policeman collected the same in a Gypsy. We were issued a receipt which did not bear the name of the Officer-inCharge, date, police station, etc.Thus, how valid is this receipt? On checking the Sections online, we discovered that under Section 177 of the M.V. Act,1988, the fine “may extend to one hundred rupees”. Also under Section 179, a “fine which may extend to five hundred rupees” is made for “Disobedience of orders, obstruction and refusal of information”. It is evident that the OC overcharged each offender on Sunday if he cited Section 177 to all. Furthermore, the OC charged us under Section 179 of which we were not guilty for we only asked to be shown a written copy of the section. We neither declined to pay the fine nor did we disrupt the function of the officer. The OC had wrongly charged us and taken our money. He suppressed our Right to Information by slapping us with the second fine. One questions if India is truly a Democracy. Also, where does the excess fine go? How does the ‘protectors of law’ manipulate the receipts since the section cited and the amount charged would, in many cases, not tally?! It is hoped that the Police Department take serious note of such blatant extortion by taking action against these erring officers and returning the ill-gotten money.
Caste prejudices on the rise
The recent inhumane act of publicly assaulting four Dalit youth in Una, Gujarat by “cow vigilantes” for skinning their much revered holy animal, inside which is believed to reside gods and goddesses is a dangerous trend. Strongly attached to this, is the growing tendency towards the caste division in this country, especially in a state like Gujarat, where Dalits are referred to as the lowest forms of human beings inhabiting the lowest sphere of society. An incident occurring once or twice may be a co-incidence. But similar incidents involving victims of the same community are akin to a pogrom against them and are motivated by sadistic impulses. The cow vigilantes camouflage their actions with the mask of “religion.” True the four youth were found skinning cow carcasses as part of their profession. What were the assaulters expecting to get out of the carcasses anyway? Why were they so offended with the skinning of dead cows? While I don’t intend to offend this religious group, when I come across broken and shattered idols thrown on the roadside or in river banks with discoloured faces and disfigured haysticks, I find the farcical parallelism of a dead cow and the broken idol quite disturbing. The idols that were once believed to contain within them the spirit of gods or goddesses were set up in temples, bathed with milk, garlanded and worshipped. So when did the spirit of the gods flee from the idols which then made the worshippers discard them so insensitively? If the idols carry the spirit of gods for only a time, it is logical to argue that the cow has a limited life span and hence may be revered only up to the time that it breathes. Cows die; their spirits relocate. If only the assaulters had understood that no holy god or goddess would like a dead stinking cow as its abode, they would have had second thoughts before publicly humiliating innocent people. And why are all these incidents happening now under the NDA rule and the BJP Government in Gujarat?
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