Unattended barricades are potential death traps
The vehicle checking mechanisms in the national capital have clearly not kept pace with the timesopinion Updated: Feb 12, 2018 07:46 IST
On February 8, an unmanned police picket in Delhi, meant to keep people safe, led to the horrific death of a biker who rode into a metal wire used to tie two barricades. Because of the absence of reflectors or conspicuous signage, the wire, barely visible in the darkness, got entangled around the victim’s neck. He fell on the road and his motorcycle hit the road divider. The next day, the National Human Rights Commission sent notices to the Union home secretary and the Delhi Police commissioner over the alleged negligence that led to the death of 21-year-old Abhishek Kashyap. Within hours of the mishap, the Delhi Police suspended seven policemen. Still, more than three days after the incident, they have been unable to identify the policeman whose negligence in tying the wire to the barricades led to the death.
The Delhi Police places nearly 10,000 barricades every night for access control in residential areas and on busy stretches to check criminals. They are meant to restrict entry and exit on both carriageways of the road in an attempt to curb vehicle thefts and petty crime such as mobile and chain snatchings.
But the vehicle checking mechanisms in the national capital have clearly not kept pace with the times. Around the world, such barriers are made of high-quality plastic and come equipped with inter-locking mechanism and are, therefore, less hazardous. They include safety features such as lights, reflectors and low-intensity sirens which can alert approaching drivers. In India, unfortunately, most of the barricades continue to be the older, heavier kind, often secured with wires. Recently the Delhi Police have procured 260 barricades fitted with reflectors.The design is such that policemen can stand on them and keep a watch on the other side.
Kashyap’s death is not the only case where someone has been injured owing to negligently kept and unmanned police barricades. In December, a biker suffered injuries around his neck when he rode into a metal wire used to tie barricades in Shakarpur. A few years ago, a three-year-old boy was crushed under an unattended police barricade in east Delhi. Unattended barricades serve no real purpose, impede traffic flow and are a big safety hazard. In 2016, a parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs had emphasised the importance of procuring another 6,000 barricades for the Delhi Police in order to bolster its counter-terrorism measures. Police modernisation is a desirable idea. But this is not the way to use barricades.