Traffic Cops In Pune Turn To Yamraj For Warning People Who Use Mobile Phone While Driving
Having repeatedly come up against people's obsession with using mobile phones while driving, despite any number of warnings and special drives, the Pune traffic police have now decided to quite literally put the fear of death in such commuters. Starting May 13, a series of special drives in the city will feature Yamraj, the Hindu god of death, teaching errant commuters the importance of hanging up the phone while on the road.
According to the plan, if a driver is seen using the phone, rather than the police, a volunteer dressed as Yamraj will appear before them, accompanied by Chitragupta (Hindu god in charge of deciding who goes to heaven or hell after death).
After stopping the driver, Yamraj will ask him, ' Yayche ahe ka ,' which means 'Do you want to come with me?' in Marathi, clearly stating that death is the only outcome of being on the phone while driving.
The idea, that will kick off in Deccan on Saturday, was floated by assistant police inspector M P Sartape from the Pune traffic police department and given an emphatic nod by deputy commissioner of police (traffic), Ashok Morale. The idea was originally floated by the Chennai traffic police a few years ago, to curb drunken driving.
Elaborating on the thought that went into it, Sartape told Pune Mirror, "The fear of death is a powerful deterrent. Traditionally, in Hindu culture, most people are conditioned to fear Yamraj, believed to be a god who takes away life. Our plan is to play on this fear."
"The common psychology is such that human beings are far more likely to do something if a reward is imminent. Similarly, they are as likely to refrain from an act if they are truly afraid of repercussions. Charging hefty fines won't create much of an impact on motorists. But, the face of Yamraj will haunt them the next time they answer a call while on the road," Sartape added.
The character of Yamraj is being depicted by Appa Akhade, who works as a security supervisor with a private firm and has voluntarily stepped in to aid traffic cops. Said Akhade, "I feel it is my responsibility to help police create awareness. My physique is suitable for the character of Yamraj so when the police approached me with this request, I readily accepted. If my role as Yamraj manages to bring down the number of drivers using mobile phones even by some small percentage, I will feel that I have contributed to the betterment of society."
Extreme as the idea may sound, traffic cops feel that nothing less than a major shock to the system will impact drivers. In the past, there have been a number of special drives against drivers using mobile phones — only last month, 264 drivers' licenses were confiscated and sent to the Pune regional transport office (RTO) for suspension.