HYDERABAD: Nineteen-year- old Ritika Agarwal lies in the ICU of Care Hospital at Nampally, oblivious to the debate she triggered when she jumped a red light at Moazzam Jahi Road last week and was knocked down by an oncoming bus. The grainy video of the accident recorded by the Hyderabad Traffic Police and posted on their Facebook page has triggered a heated debate whether such videos should be used to make a point about respecting traffic rules. Ritika's family itself cares little for the debate.
“My daughter is recovering and nothing more is important to me than her health.
So many such accidents occur everyday. Why is everybody hyping it up so much,” said her mother when asked about the video. The video shows a helmetless Ritika jumping a red, dodging a bus and two cars and swerving straight into the path of a bus. Grievously injured, she was rushed to Care Hospital a stone's throw away, where she is in treatment.
Posted on the traffic police's Facebook page, where dozens of less dramatic traffic offences are routinely posted, the video has caught the attention of a citizenry that is harried by traffic problems everyday.
Contrary to expectations, reaction to the video has not been one of horror but one welcoming the tough love tactics of the traffic police. Since the day of the accident, about 500 netizens posted comments on the Facebook page, a majority of them patting the police. Said Danji Thotapalli, an FB user: "I don't believe that the intention of posting the video on FB was to create an alibi for the Police. Showing real incidents such as this will increase awareness about safe driving to people using the roads. May be there should be a section on TV channels that shows these videos on a regular basis.
I feel sorry for the girl, though." Another user, Prakash Arcot, was more forthright: "The traffic camera at MJ road is put to real use. This should serve as a deterrent to youngsters who (do not obey traffic rules)." Offline, opinion on the video was a tad divided. Sachindra Pandey, a software employee, said, "The police did the right thing by uplaoding the video. This is a warning for everybody driving on the city roads. Even I ride a two-wheeler and I make sure I have all the safety measures, at least a helmet and a jacket when I am driving.
Sometimes, even when you are careful, you tend to meet with accidents.” But there were voices sympathising with Ritika's family too. Home-maker Shoba Kumar said, “I have a daughter and I am tensed up till she reaches back home safe and sound. Hearing of such accidents is bad enough, imagine seeing the video of your daughter being shown all over television.
Very traumatising for the family.” The traffic police on their part preferred to let the citizens talk. C V Anand, additional commissioner of police (Traffic) refused to comment on the controversy. However, a senior official defended the traffic police move, saying "Traffic police around the world use accident videos to spread awareness about traffic rules. It acts as a deterrent. We don't upload gory videos. We try to educate children and youngsters, RTC drivers and others through CDs and videos. Unless you show them the likely consequences of breaking traffic rules, they will not realise the dangers of violating traffic rules."