Noida residents mourn the death of beloved Traffic Baba

The journey of flight sergeant (retd) Mukul Joshi as a traffic volunteer began in 2004 after the death of his close friend’s 19-year-old son in a road accident. Since then the retired IAF officer went to traffic stops handing out pamphlets and praising people for following traffic rules

noida Updated: Nov 06, 2017 23:16 IST
Sohil Sehran
Sohil Sehran
Hindustan Times
traffic baba noida,traffic baba,IAF officer Mukul Joshi
Flight sergeant (retired) Mukul Joshi, also known as Traffic Baba, passed away on Sunday. This picture was taken on September 9, 2017, when he was felicitated by ADG (law and order) Anand Kumar for his traffic awareness campaign.

Lovingly called Traffic Baba, 83-year-old retired Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Mukul Chandra Joshi passed away at his residence here on Sunday. For past 14 years, the octogenarian would regularly take to city streets for spreading road safety awareness among people.

Joshi is survived by his wife Shobha Joshi, 73, and two sons—Neeraj, 51, and Rajiv, 46.

Joshi’s family said he died on Sunday around 9 am after returning from his morning walk.

“My father came back from his walk and told mother that he will take a short nap. When my mother tried to wake him up after some time, he did not respond to her calls. Our neighbours rushed to help my mother and took him to the hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead,” Rajiv, an IAF officer, said.

Joshi lived with his wife in Sector 21 here. His sons work in different cities.

“My father was on a pacemaker but continued to come on streets and generate road and safety awareness among the people. Three years ago my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer but he fought it. He remained active throughout his life,” Rajiv said.

The family had last gathered for his birthday on October 8.

Joshi was felicitated for his work by ADG (Law and Order) Uttar Pradesh Anand Kumar, IGP Meerut range Ram Kumar and SSP Gautam Budh Nagar Love Kumar in Noida.

As the news of Traffic Baba’s death spread, Noida residents took to social networking sites and WhatsApp group to mourn the loss. They remembered him for his courage to come on the streets and giving his time to spread road safety awareness.

The journey of this Good Samaritan as a traffic volunteer began in 2004 after the death of his close friend’s 19-year-old son in a road accident in which he was not wearing a helmet, he had told Hindustan Times in an interview in June 2015. The accident changed the course of Joshi’s life who decided to create awareness among the people and did so religiously till the end of his days.

After the accident, Joshi got the words ‘Follow Traffic Rules’ printed on a white gown and a handy public address system to draw the attention of passersby. The campaign was widely appreciated by the then senior traffic department officers, who welcomed the move.

With messages such as “Always follow traffic rules. Your family is waiting at home” printed on pamphlets he distributed, he urged commuters through the public address system to abide by rules. He became popular as Traffic Baba for gently encouraging commuters with words of praise, like “I salute you for wearing helmet/seatbelt”.

Dressed in a white gown and hat, Joshi could be seen at intersections around Spice Mall in Noida, distributing pamphlets to commuters to follow traffic rules.

People would often offer him monetary help, but Joshi never took it, saying his pension was enough for the cause.

After a few years, whenever Joshi visited his son in Bengaluru, he would campaign on the streets of the Garden City. Joshi took permission from the Bengaluru police to conduct road safety campaign.

Joshi had become so popular in Bengaluru that his work would often be applauded on social platforms. The people there had also become very supportive of him, his family said.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 23:16 IST