Friday, July 02, 2010

Warden turns judge

Warden turns judge
Meant to help cops by managing traffic and pointing out violations, volunteer asks offenders to do baski on the street
Anisha.Rudrani @timesgroup.com


For those who were bullied in school and colleges and could never find a way to retaliate, emulating 41-year-old city businessman Paresh Dharamshi Shaw may be a good way to release years of pent-up frustration.
The managing director of a firm that manufactures drums and barrels, Shaw dons his shiny Traffic Warden’s helmet and whistle on the weekends and parks himself at the popular Forum Mall-Raheja Arcade Junction in Koramangala. Here he waits for traffic violators – usually those jumping red lights or jaywalking. And once he’s caught them, instead of handing them over to a traffic policeman for further action as per the law, Shaw forces people to do 10 squats (baski in local lingo) in the middle of the road as punishment. No court of appeal, no addition to the state exchequer.
When asked what gives him the right to impart this instant justice, Shaw chooses to take the bettermentof-future-generations line. “If we’re not strict on the roads, our own children might be the victims of traffic indiscipline in future,” he says. “I’ve had fights in the past with motorists who break the rules, but I don’t let them go until they relent.”
Shaw is one of 310 traffic wardens in Bangalore – all common citizens appointed by the police-controlled The Traffic Warden Organisation (TWO) to help manage traffic on a voluntary basis. Expected to do four hours of traffic duty every week, these wardens are supposed to work in conjunction with the traffic police. Candidates who are selected are given a one-day course at the traffic training institute. They can report violators, even hand them over to the cops, but have no authority even demand to see a drivers’ a licence, let alone detain or punish anyone. The TWO is attempting to push the number of wardens in the city to 1,000 by the end of the year.
When asked about Shaw’s unique style of functioning, TWO’s Chief Warden MT Naik, who is also a deputy commissioner of police (traffic), said this was a clear case of an overzealous individual overstepping his bounds.
“As a warden, he has no authority to punish people. When a traffic cop or even an RTO has no right to do so, how can a traffic warden?” he said. “I know Paresh. He may be doing it out of good intentions, but it is against the law. Now that I’ve come to know he’s asking traffic offenders to do sit-ups, I’ll ask him to stop immediately.”
The Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security), Praveen Sood, added: “We’ve not received any written complaints from any of the motorists in this regard so far. If something like this has happened, we need to see the context in which it has happened. These traffic wardens are volunteers, who work keeping the social cause in mind. But they have no business to penalize people. If any complaint comes to us in writing, we will remove the offender from the TWO.”
WHAT TWO IS ALL ABOUT
The Traffic Warden Organisation (TWO) is a voluntary organisation in traffic regulation, launched by the then DCP (Traffic) Ajai Kumar Singh in 1985
There are 310 active traffic wardens in the city, including six women. Several of them are professionals, including IT engineers, industrialists, doctors, advocates and teachers
These wardens have the right to point out traffic offenders to the police, but cannot even ask to see a drivers’ licence. They have no right to detain or punish anyone
People willing to become traffic wardens can log on to www.bangaloretrafficpolice.gov.in to download application form To apply, a TWO aspirant must have a PUC pass/equivalent certificate
Selected candidates are given a day’s training at the traffic training institute. The police are aiming at having 1,000 wardens in the city by the end of the year

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