Dharmendra Singh (name changed), a traffic police personnel deployed at Delhi University’s north campus used to have regular heated arguments with women students for riding without helmets, speeding and jumping red lights. But now he lets the offending vehicle pass if the driver is a woman.
The 45-year-old is one among many traffic constables who have refrained from fining women drivers ever since a colleague was dismissed last month after being caught on camera physically assaulting a women rider in central Delhi’s posh Golf Links area.
The video, which went viral, showed head constable Satish Chand beating the woman – who reportedly jumped a traffic signal -- with a brick. The woman alleged she was physically and verbally abused by Chand when she refused to pay him a bribe of Rs 200.
Now, many in the 6,000-strong traffic police force are trying to avoid Chand’s fate. And their solution: let women traffic violators go.
Sample this – between January and April, a total of 6,589 women were fined for traffic violations, an average of 55 per day. The number dropped to a total of 21 fines between May 15 and June 10. Chand was dismissed on May 12.
“My job is much more important to me. After that incident I avoid taking action if the driver of the offending vehicle is a woman. A few missed challans can still be managed but it is difficult to get a job these days,” said constable Ajay Kumar (name changed), who now thinks twice before signaling a woman driver to stop her vehicle.
According to sources, most of these 21 challans were for riding without helmets. “A case of riding without a helmet cannot be contested. You are either wearing it or you are not. For most other offences, officials now refrain from getting into trouble with women drivers. Who knows when a conversation turns into a violent argument?” said source in the traffic police said.
“If in the first go they are ready to pay the fine then good. Otherwise, I let them go. Last month, I did not stop a single woman. That doesn’t mean that no offence was committed by them,” said Dharmendra Singh.