What can the authorities do to put an end to traffic violations? Impose fines ? Send out court notices? Confiscate driving license? Seize vehicles?
Well, all these deterrents may have not quite proved handy for Chennai Traffic police as they have devised a highly bizarre yet unique measure to stop reckless motor bikers - strip the offender down to his underwear.
Yes, that's right. An overspeeding biker gang in Chennai which comprised of 14 youngsters aged between 19 and 25 met with this treatment in Mahabalipuram on Sunday, June 14 early in the morning. After being caught, the gang was taken to the nearby police station and was detained for nine hours during which they were questioned and made to strip. They were also fined a sum of Rs 1,200 each and their high-end bikes kept in the station overnight.
"The police wanted to see the colour of our underwear and made us pull our pants down and our shirt up. It was bizarre," said an anonymous 19-year-old who is a member of the Madras Riders Club.
And the traffic police had an obvious 'legal' justification regarding their new move. "We have a register to record all details of an accused. These include his name, age, marital status, the clothes he was wearing and two birthmarks," said inspector of Mahabalipuram police station Govindarajan. "We have no choice. It is also part of the procedure according to Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC ) which asks us to note down the colour of the accused's clothes," he added . The police also maintained they have clear evidence from speed cameras which can prove that the bikers were speeding at 90kmph.
David Philip, who was one of the parents at the station did not register any protest against the move. Philip believes this could be a tactic to scare impressionable youths.
Human rights activists, on the hand, have been singing a different tune over the 'humiliating' and 'insulting' move by the police. They are saying that the CrPC does not mention anything about checking the colour of a person's underwear. "The police have to note down moles and scars that are visible. But there is no need to make a person strip, that too in front of so many people," said V Kannadasan, a former special public prosecutor at the human rights court. In Tamil Nadu, which holds the notorious reputation for having a very high number of road accidents, taking down reckless drivers has been a major cause of concern for the authorities. But undoubtedly, the Chennai Police have gone too far with its weird measure to rein in on the offenders.
Too bad, a poor policeman who is already burdened with checking driving licenses and registration certificates, has to now also 'check' for the underwear colour.