People clash with police over hefty traffic fines in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar, Sep 7 (PTI) Several persons were injured in a clash between a group of people and police in the city over imposition of heavy fines on violators of traffic rules under the new motor vehicles act.
The incident occurred at Raj Mahal square when commuters gheraoed on-duty traffic policemen and protested against collection of fines which they termed “hefty”, police said.
When the traffic police asked commuters to furnish documents of their vehicles, several of them, in turn, started demanding paper of a police vehicle from the traffic officers, police said.
The crowd allegedly recovered two liquor bottles from the police vehicle, though a senior police officer claimed these were seized during a search on Friday.
Police resorted to batton charge to disperse the crowd after they started pelting stones on traffic guards, the officer said, adding that “several people and policemen were injured” in the incident.
Agitators claimed government’s vehicles were not stopped for checking documents.
“Why are there two laws, one for police vehicles and another for the public?” said a woman who was asked to pay fine for not wearing the seat belt while driving.
Police Commissioner of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Sudhansu Sarangi said, “The situation is under control. A drunk auto- rickshaw driver was penalised with Rs 47,500 on Wednesday and Rs 5,000 each was collected from two persons for speaking on mobile phones while driving. No one else has been fined above Rs 1,000.”
He denied allegations of harassment by police in the name of penalising violators of traffic rules.
“After realising that many people do not have driving licences or pollution under control (PUC) certificates, we have given them one month time to get these documents. No one is unnecessarily harassed,” he said.
Odisha government has decided to relax penalty norm under new motor vehicles act for a period of 30 days, beginning Friday, for air and noise pollution, following public outcry over imposition of heavy fines on violators of traffic rules.
On July 31, Parliament had passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that had provisions for stricter and heavier penalties for violations in an attempt to improve road safety.
The Bill got President’s assent on August 9 and is applicable pan India from September 1.