Crisis is the mother of all inventions, but some bikers from south and south central Mumbai seem to have carried the age-old adage to the extremes in order to save themselves from getting caught in police nakabandis, thanks to instant messaging apps.
A fortnight since the Mumbai police launched an all-out crackdown against bikers driving without helmets and other traffic offences, bikers from south and south central Mumbai have found their way out by ganging up on internet messaging application, WhatsApp, to post alerts about police checks in their respective localities.
“This is the only and safest way to fox the police,” boasted a member of “Police Nakabandi (6)” one of the 15-16 groups that have been created in 8-10 days. The area of the closely-knitted group is from Colaba/ Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai to Byculla and Lalbaug in South Central Mumbai. Insiders claimed that they have so far been lucky as information about the groups is a closely-held secret.
Explaining the modus operandi of the groups, the member said that each member has taken upon himself the responsibility of posting information about the status of nakabandis in his respective locality as and when it is sighted. Even photographs are uploaded in the groups to give the information a stamp of authenticity. “Membership is voluntary for a common cause,” he said.
Sample these updates posted around noon on Tuesday by three members of “Police Nakabandi (6)…
#“Lunch time, abhi nahin pakadre hai (lunch time, they are not catching now)”
#“Same status at JJ”
#“Nakabandi at Abdul Rehman Street”
Meanwhile, joint commissioner of police, law and order, Deven Bharati said he was aware of the existence of the groups. “I don’t understand what these people are going to achieve by dodging the police,” he said. “After all, the purpose of the drive is to ensure their safety only. Instead of running away, they should cooperate with us in spreading awareness about traffic safety precautions,” he added.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), zone II (areas like Dongri, Pydhonie, DB Marg, LT Marg, VP Road, Gamdevi ), Dnyaneshwar Chavan, said that on an average, 500 people are booked in his locality every day for a range of traffic offences. “A majority of them are for driving without helmets, which remains the main area of concern for us” he said.
Meanwhile, a police inspector from a south Mumbai police station said the police can ill afford to book the administrator/s of such groups. “There is no criminality involved in their act. How can we act against them?” he asked. However, another officer claimed that the police are already in the lookout for the members and administrators and there are options available, other than strictly legal, to curb the operation (and proliferation) of the groups. “Can they outsmart the police? We have our ways too,” the officer said.