BENGALURU: Of late, I have been capturing sunrise with my camera. Recently, as I reached HBR Layout 4th Block, I noticed two constables taking money from a vendor.The journalist in me wanted to know more. When approached, they flatly denied of doing any such thing. Unconvinced, I decided to ask the vendors. They said the cops take `50-100 every day from each of them.Though shops set up on roadsides are a common sight, few of us realise that they violate rules. This illegal business is encouraged by corrupt policemen who look for a quick bribe.
Similar tales all around
Vimal Singh, a fruit vendor, said, “We are forced to pay `500 to the traffic cops who visit once or twice a month. We also pay a variable amount ranging from `50-100 every day to the constables who come on their daily rounds.” Vibha (nam changed), a henna stall owner, said, “If we refuse to pay them, they harass us in different ways.”Policemen come every day and collect ‘hafta’, Chennamma, a vegetable vendor in Madiwala, said. “We have become used to this practice.” Talking about traffic cops, a transwoman who begs at Frazer Town traffic signal said they collect a fixed amount from each of them daily and allow them to carry on with the job.
A liquor shop owner also narrated a similar story. “The 1am deadline for liquor sale hardly impacts us. All we need is to pay `150 to the police patrolling in Hoysala vans, and they let us carry on,” a small liquor shop owner at RT Nagar said.When auto driver Safiullah was asked if they too had to pay traffic cops any bribes, he said, “One of my friends’ auto is not registered. But he has been doing good business since he pays them weekly commission.”
‘Live and let live policy’
When a constable at Bellandur was asked why they indulge in such practices, he, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The vendors lead a better lifestyle than us. We live in quarters that are like slums. Our salary is not enough for even three decent meals a day and we don’t get increments for years.”
Another constable at HSR Layout said, “We have been fighting for years for a better livelihood. Our salary is not enough to meet most of our needs. This is what we call ‘live and let live’. Vendors pay us and we let them do their business.”
Officials promise action
The city’s police chief Sunil Kumar said, “I have told all DCPs to take actions on such constables. It is a black mark on our system. I know this is symbiotic but it is illegal. No one will be spared if they are caught.”
A sub-inspector at Hennur agreed, “The department has tried to crack down on bribe taking. We take action whenever it comes to our notice.”DCP of Bangalore East, Rahul Kumar Shahapurwad, claimed unawareness of such activities under his jurisdiction. “But I’ll put my team into action to arrest the lawbreakers,” he added. However, a BBMP official washed his hands off the affair, saying, “We are not aware of any such arrangements. This should not be happening and if this is taking place, police must take immediate action.”