Traffic constable Manna Ram had to pay with his life for daring to stop an errant driver on a hot June night last year. Angered that he had been asked to take a detour, the driver ran over the 24-year-old constable near a flyover in west Delhi’s Zakhira, robbing his family of ten of their sole bread-winner.
According to a recent study conducted by the Delhi Traffic Police, incidents like these see a sharp rise during summers when the brutal heat worsens the stress and low tolerance levels among the city’s motorists. As per the study report, the Capital recorded over 98,200 road rage-related cases between May and July last year as compared to 34,487 cases in the following winter (December-February).
This year has already seen 19,800 cases with a sharp hike in the last one month.
“In Delhi, many external factors contribute to a person losing his cool on the road. The extreme weather condition and incessant traffic jams are two of them,” said Dr Raveena Bahl, a clinical psychologist and counselor. According to Bahl, the confined space of a car only adds to the frustration, with the slightest of instigation turning into a major fight, which sometimes turns fatal.
It has been two years and Manjeet Ahuja (name changed) still cannot believe he killed a man in sheer rage. A property dealer from east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, Ahuja was returning from a party on a hot summer night in 2013 when a motorcycle hit his car from behind resulting in a small dent. “I had stopped at the signal and the biker hit the rear bumper of my car. It was a hot summer night, around 11pm. The air conditioner of my car was not working. I don’t know what happened to me but minutes later, the man lay bleeding on the road,” said Ahuja.
According to his statement to the police, Ahuja got out of the car to reason with the biker, but within minutes the argument turned violent and Ahuja ended up smashing the man’s head with his car jack.
The case is still pending in the Delhi high court but a trial court ordered Ahuja to undergo anger management sessions at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for a year. The sessions, his family members said, have helped him cope with the guilt of robbing another family of a loved one.
Many like him are assigned to compulsory anger management classes every year. These sessions mainly focus on understanding the lifestyles of ‘patients’ with each one getting a different course of ‘treatment’.
“You will never be able to point out a person with anger management issues in a crowd. I have met patients who said they were venting the frustration of a fight with a spouse, bad pay hike and the sultry weather during these incidents,” Bahl said.