Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
As one drives along the streets of Imphal, it is an enduring experience of the public to have horns and sirens blaring down upon them. Next, when you look back, the olive-green clad security personnel waving their sticks and escorting the elected representative is seen. It seems that the reasoning capacity of the security escort and the Minister or MLA sitting in the air conditioned car is oblivious to the predicament of the public and the conditions prevalent. The common man no longer matters, the scenario is that of the cowherd shouting and brandishing his stick to the cattle herd. Before 1972 and statehood, there was no traffic problem. The year 1972 saw the establishment of a separate Traffic Police Department. 40 personnel under the command of a sub inspector were posted to mitigate the traffic in the municipal areas. The ‘charlies’ in their khaki uniforms did most of the ‘regulating’ then.
Today, the traffic police have nearly 400 personnel within the department to address the traffic management issues. They, similarly to their earlier counterparts are mainly deployed in the municipal areas. The question of how well a job they are doing still remains a rhetorical question. With each vehicle brandishing a government insignia , it matters not whether the automobile belongs to the Chief Minister or to that of a municipal councilor ; the ever vigilant traffic police regardless of the turn of the traffic, jumps down from their traffic ‘pedestal’ to rob the turn of the public to make way of the vehicle.
Sometimes, one finds that the particular vehicle ‘given the road’ carries only a solitary driver. Such is the impeccable discipline of the traffic police, their unquestionable regard for the car with the flag pole. Who is inside the vehicle does not matter! The right of the public to access the roadways comes second.
In this daily routine, the rules of the traffic are broken by the traffic police themselves. The ‘pathetic’ bribe thrown by the trucker at the traffic points and the bravado of the police in trying to recover the soiled note in total disregard of the incoming traffic sums up the mentality of the police. Parting the traffic to accommodate the VIP’s car is aped by them as Moses parting the Red Sea with his staff to deliver the children of Israel from the pursuing Egyptian army. The ever hurried elected representative, whether en route to attend a local marriage ceremony or a cabinet meeting surpasses the interest of the public who elected them in the first place. One ponders in these situations, if the MLA in their blatant exhibit of arrogance and misuse of legislative powers is physically not tuned to wait with the public. Musingly, it sometimes comes to mind whether the MLA has an immediate condition to answer the call of nature. In the manner, all the elected would have bowel problems. Such wanton disregard for the traffic rules displays also the “I don’t give a care for the public” attitude. The public given ‘numero- uno’ status has no bar, leave alone the traffic monopolizing; it remains a question whether if the person would have interest in development activities of the state and woes afflicting the public. Access is given to ambulances and fire services, they have a priority to tackle the immediate crisis, and the Governor and Chief Minister have a protocol for travel and the necessary road opening party clears and manage the traffic. But, traffic rules cannot be bent for every Tom, Dick and Harry with an emblem at the cost of public comfort, the fact however remains quite oblivious to the traffic police. At the present juncture, it is felt that the public should make a stand and not give road ground to the invading MLA entourage, as we also have similar appointments, we also have utmost hurries .To show that the interest of the public should be foremost to the naïve members of the so called pillars of democracy is the need of the hour.