LAW-ABIDING Goans are dismayed by the demand of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar for withdrawal of the traffic sentinel scheme. Chodankar’s argument that the scheme was creating a law and order problem has an imaginary basis. His allegation that the police are distributing cameras to sentinels shows his total ignorance about how the scheme works. A GPCC president who does not do his homework before talking to the media is bound to appear ludicrous in the public eye; let us hope he doesn’t do it again. The sentinel scheme, which has been in operation for over a year now, has helped police to act against many traffic offenders and bring down the number of road accidents and human casualties. According to police, there was 22 per cent decline in road accident deaths till November 2018 as compared to the figures for the corresponding period in 2017. There are around 3,000 traffic sentinels registered across the state, who have recorded traffic violations by about a lakh of drivers since the scheme was launched in October 2017. The scheme is operated on an App developed by the police which cannot be manipulated to import pictures or videos from external sources like CCTV cameras.
Another argument given by the GPCC president for withdrawal of the sentinel scheme is that Goans are law-abiding people. One has to only see the road below the GPCC headquarters to know how law-abiding, to begin with, are Congress leaders themselves! At least half a dozen cars of Congress leaders are parked daily on the edge of the busiest artery Dayanand Bandodkar Road in front of the Mandovi hotel building where the Congress party headquarters is situated. Do not the ex-rulers aspiring to be rulers again know that it is a no-parking area? So for the law-abiding GPCC president, violation of law begins at home! Lawlessness on the roads has been increasing with each passing day. And the Congress leads the pack! It is sad to note that politicians only want to derive political mileage and could go to any extent to get support of people for their parties, even at the cost of law and order. There is strong speculation that the GPCC president’s demand for the withdrawal of the sentinel scheme has come from a law and order problem that occurred in Shiroda recently, wherein a frenzied mob forced a traffic sentinel to close down his shop on the suspicion that he was a traffic sentinel who had got challans issued against several drivers. It was sad to note that those who broke the law were in the forefront of the agitation against the traffic sentinel, supported by politicians, while the police and other state officials offering the victim no help.
The GPCC president must withdraw his demand for withdrawal of the sentinel scheme; instead he should ask for its horizontal and vertical expansion. The Congress party should also put pressure on the top bosses of the police to provide adequate protection to the traffic sentinels who run serious risks to their life and property on account of the social responsibility they have taken up as proactive citizens. Most of us see traffic violations every day but do not do anything. The traffic sentinels have taken the responsibility of reporting the violations to the police for penal action. If such alert citizens are attacked by violators, it will be a victory for lawlessness. At least three sentinels have been attacked. It was highly irresponsible on the part of deputy superintendent of police (traffic) Dharmesh Angle to say that the traffic sentinel scheme was a purely voluntary initiative and any sentinel was free to quit the platform. Is this the way one fills the hearts of proactive citizens with courage? The police are evading their duty to protect the sentinels.
If the GPCC president’s ridiculous claim that Goan drivers were law abiding can be stretched to its logical extreme we should not need a single man in the traffic police! If we go by his argument, we have to believe that the one lakh traffic offenders who were caught, thanks to the sentinels, were all innocent! Or we have to assume that since Goan drivers are law abiding all the one lakh offenders were non-Goans. Chodankar cannot blindfold himself to the fact that the number of Goans who go by traffic rules is diminishing. One of the reasons is the police department is terribly short of ideas to penalise offenders. No wonder, no driver drives with a sense of fear of law. Rather than demanding withdrawal of the scheme, Chodankar should lead by example and abide by no parking sign outside the GPCC headquarters. He should call upon all Congress leaders and workers to abide by traffic rules.