The chaotic Rashbehari Avenue stretch where an autorickshaw had scraped a high court judge’s car on Wednesday morning was a picture of model traffic management the day after — but only till she crossed the road on her way to office.
Policemen were deployed in numbers, new no-parking signs were nailed to pavement posts on the one-way road and autos were parked in perfect symmetry until Justice Samapti Chatterjee (mistakenly referred to as Sampita in Thursday’s report) left her home, came out of Jamir Lane and crossed the spot near the Gariahat end of Bijon Setu where the incident had occurred.
The judge had called the city police chief after the incident and asked him to arrest and produce the auto driver before her within 2pm. The police caught Samar Das, 38, in no time — something unprecedented in a city where car owners suffer auto-cracy every day.
On Thursday, the bandobast lasted a little over an hour. Harmony gave way to the usual anarchy once the judge had crossed the stretch. Metro watched from the sidelines.
Seven policemen posted at the Gariahat end of Bijon Setu from 9am ensured that none of the autos plying on five different routes was allowed to park on the southern side of Rasbehari Avenue beside the bridge — the spot where the scraping happened the previous day.
By 9.45am, they had brought four no-parking signs and put them up on the southern side of the road.
“After yesterday’s incident, we decided to turn the southern side of the road into a no-parking zone. This will ease congestion,” said a senior traffic officer. The auto drivers initially protested but backed off when reminded: “You all want to be Samar Das, now cooling his heels behind bars?”
The cops were extra strict in keeping the adjacent Jamir Lane free. “No parking.” The message was loud and clear. A traffic sergeant kept watch on the auto stand. “No double parking,” was the order.
The news crackled on their wireless headsets: the judge has left. The police posse immediately dropped their guard and took off too, entrusting the responsibility of enforcing the “new rules of the road” with an assistant sub-inspector sitting inside a police kiosk at the crossing. The moment the policemen turned their backs, the auto drivers were back where they think they belong — all over the road.
The northern side of the road was quickly overrun, with double and triple parking. The one-way traffic rule went for a toss and illegal U-turns (to climb the bridge) resumed. About 15 minutes later, some autos were parked on the southern side — right below the new no-parking signs.
And the auto alibi, as usual, was ready. “Autos of five different routes leave from here. It is impossible to maintain all routes from a single stand, especially during rush hour,” said a driver on the Bijon Setu-Lal Kuthi route.