THE citizens must have witnessed the overwhelming number of traffic constables, assistant sub-inspectors and contractual staff hired by traffic police department with car-lifters roaming and picketing around Karachi city from the start of the holy month of Ramazan.
A good citizen would believe, in a state of delusion, that they were out to alleviate the misery of the common man by controlling the ugly, disoriented traffic formed by cars, taxis, rickshaws and motorcycles driven by frustrated, annoyed people with ‘why me’ and ‘who the heck are you’ faces, but, alas, it is a misconception. This police force is on the hunt for people who are already fasting in Ramazan and exhausted by sweltering heat of the early summer.
A pick-up driver carrying furniture or electronics, a motorcyclist with two or three bags or cartons, a driver parking the car just for a few seconds and youngsters on motorcycle going to buy ‘Iftari’ are soft and easy ‘targets’ for these so-called city traffic administrators to collect their ‘Eidi’ from.
It is a pity that tankers, mini-buses and large private heavy vehicles with heavily-armed guards aboard, whose reckless driving is a daily experience for commuters, remain the untouchables. No ‘honest policeman’ dares to teach them law and issues them tickets for violation of laws. The ASIs and constables are equally good in catching and leaving the ‘evaders’ in exchange of some ‘penalty money’ without issuing tickets. The business is in full swing.
I myself fell victim of these ‘very quick response teams’ when I just got off my car to buy bread from a bakery on the University Road. I parked my car in a suitable roadside space and it hardly took me a couple of minutes to get back. The ASI in-charge, however, had done the ‘needful’ to eliminate the ‘social evil’ committed by me and my car was parked on a side walk with the help of a lifter. It took me two minutes to buy the bread, but 15 minutes to get my car back on road after paying Rs500 as hush money.
An ASI on duty at Zaibunnisa Street, one of the busiest streets of Karachi, was dealing with people in a seriously outrageous manner marked by a ‘who cares’ attitude. When it was suggested to him that he should at least respect the sanctity of Ramazan, he shouted back and pushed my driver back badly.
This lawlessness by the ‘law-keepers’ is a daily deal for the Karachiites. It is the negligence of the traffic authorities that the law-breakers have no fear of punishment which is resulting in chaos. The city is in the hands of merciless goons who are more powerful than the law and the corrupt law-keepers. It has become impossible for a gentleman to drive out and come back home with self-respect, unharmed. Which door, if any, should the common man knock to get some relief?
Muhammad Asif Rajput
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022