Bangalore: He works seven days a week, and is always on the job, even in the blazing summer sun. This is a traffic policeman who never takes a break – just the ticket in Bangalore’s chaotic and often indisciplined traffic.
The only thing is – he’s made out of cardboard.
The fact is that many Indian drivers will only follow the rules if they think the long arm of the law will reach out and catch them – and the traffic police in Bangalore, who introduced these cardboard cutouts of traffic police, hope that a glimpse of this uniformed person will make people behave. At first glance they may not realize he is not actually human.
The man in charge of trying to deal with Bangalore’s traffic, Additional Commissioner of Police, Dr MA Saleem, told NDTV, “Policemen cannot be omnipresent at every road and every junction because we don’t have that much strength – the tendency among road users is that whenever they see there is no traffic policemen at any stretch of the road, they try to violate traffic rules – particularly one way.”
And Dr Saleem is happy with the initial results of the new experiment.
“Impact has been quite good. A lot of people when they see from a little distance, they immediately turn back. In fact one auto driver was found talking to that person.”
The plus side of the new additions – these gentlemen in khaki work long hours without a break and will never take a bribe to look the other way when it comes to traffic offences. The downside is – they are not very proactive and are unlikely to step in if there is a mess with the traffic.
So to mix things up, there will sometimes be real policemen posted at the places where the cardboard ones are being used, just to ensure road users don’t come to expect a traffic cop who never actually flags them down.
But the experiment could just be working. We spoke to some of the people we saw driving past one of the cutouts near the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore. “It’s good. From a distance it looks like a real cop,” said one driver. “Think it might make people behave a little bit better? It’s watching us,” said another. “Two or three times we thought it was a real policeman standing there and we slowed down.”
Three of these khaki-clad policemen are out on the roads of the city – and another ten will soon be added. The next step is to equip them with cameras to catch violators to prove that these new members of Bangalore’s finest are not just paper tigers.