Rishi Raj Singh and the seat belt law – Please don’t resign !


First off – I am a big fan of Mr Singh . He has always come across as an honest police officer with impeccable integrity , and with tremendous respect for the rule of law .

And then I saw this news today

http://www.madhyamam.com/en/node/24107

But in the case of the hurried enforcement of the seat belt law – I think he totally jumped the gun . For a guy who has lived in Kerala for decades , he should have known clearly that a rushed enforcement won’t succeed in increasing passenger safety. I hope he doesn’t resign in haste

1. Kerala has no culture of traffic discipline

Every road has lanes drawn on it – yet you will never see anyone sticking to a lane when they drive . Till that lane discipline , speed limits and respect of signals get ingrained , the fundamental cause of accidents won’t get resolved . Also – for putting a seat belt in rear seat , how many cars have seat belts in back seats to begin with ? Not many ! So what exactly is the enforcement going to accomplish ? Not much more than citizens facing harassment from police .

That needs significant education – at big scale . That hasn’t happened yet . There is no enforcement either given police cars don’t follow traffic discipline either

2. Police needs to demonstrate respect for spirit of law before they implement letter of the law

It is illegal to put dark tinted glass on vehicles in Kerala – it should be possible for passengers to be visible from outside . Police cars used by senior officers don’t use tinted glass either . Instead , they use curtains ! When police officers – colleagues of Mr Singh himself – can circumvent the law , where is the moral ground to enforce another traffic law ?

3. Government of the people

Ultimately , police is part of the executive wing . They need to consult with the government before heavily enforcing a law that affects most of the people . Such a consultation would have resulted in a realistic implementation time frame . Political masters don’t always make it easy for able officers like Mr Singh – I totally get that . But that consultation is a necessary part of doing government business .

I also hold the politicians responsible . They could have handled this better without destroying the confidence of a very good police officer . It’s one team that is elected and/or paid for by common man . The citizens don’t get amused when they point fingers at each other

Bottom line – road safety is paramount and at the moment the scenario is terrible in Kerala . It needs a whole sale solution , not fits and starts and certainly not heroics . Police , Government and people need to do this together .

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