Traffic chaos has become a common occurrence in the City and getting out of it seems to be an almost impossible task.
It is in these trying circumstances that the traffic police work day after day. The work is challenging and these men and women work under immense pressure, in rain and sun, and bearing the hazards of pollution.
Krishnamurthy, who has been in service for 35 years, points out, “We do not have fixed work timing. We have to work day and night and there are no regular holidays. We have to request for a holiday. The traffic police lacks manpower and we need more people on duty to ease our work.”
Basavaraj KN has been in service for five years now. He says, “The peak hours are demanding. When there is huge traffic, we have to manually operate the signals to ease the traffic, give hand signals, scream and shout at the people who do not obey the rules. We have to inhale chemicals which have a bad impact on our health. Masks have been provided to us but the problem is we have to remove it to use the whistle which is inconvenient. So we end up inhaling the pollutants.”
During rains, life becomes extremely difficult for these policemen. “Last week, I went home at 2 in the night and was completely drenched. We had to keep the traffic moving and make arrangements for people to get home safely. Only after everything was settled did we go back,” adds Basavaraj.
Munniranga, who has been in service for the past 15 years, and is currently on duty on Residency Road, shares an experience that happened to him three years back, “I was doing my duty on Richmond Road. At the signal, a teenager stopped his bike on the footpath. So I asked him to pull back his bike a bit. He refused and started abusing me and even went on to hit me. People who were there took the boy to the police station and narrated the whole story. The boy was asked to pay a fine and was warned.”
Munniranga says that youngster are major trouble-makers. “Some are pranksters. They do not obey the rules. For them, the penalty of Rs 100 is nothing. I have met a few youngsters who have told me, ‘It’s just Rs 100, so take it! They don’t fear anything and repeatedly make mistakes. The attitude towards law and human beings should change. People have become very insensitive,” he adds.
Narendra joined the police force three years back after facing a lot of financial difficulties at his home in Dharwad. He has a family of four with two sisters of marriageable age. The entire family depends on his income. “We have to face flak from both sides — our department and the public. People have a very negative image of us. But there are some who thank us for the work we do and smile to us during the duty, which makes our day.
At the end of the day, we take away such gestures and that’s what keeps us going despite the work tension.”
A traffic policewoman has her own difficulties while dealing with unruly people. Sushila has been in service for the past five years and is currently working in Yeshwantpur. “People do not respect women and do not obey the instructions given by us. Some people hurl rude comments on us. They don’t stop the vehicle if we ask them to but just zoom past us. But then, I ignore such comments and do my duty to my satisfaction. I always wanted to serve people and the society. I like my job despite the flaws.”
Festivals are not a thing of celebration for the traffic police as their job gets hectic during this season. “Deepavali, Ganesh Chathurti and New Year are worse. Managing traffic specially during these days is tough. Moreover, we don’t even get to celebrate the festivals or spend time with our family. We have to make a lot of personal sacrifices which affect our family life,” says Prasad. “We slog day and night but we don’t get paid as much as we work,” he adds.