The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tinted windows' Cops want a peek in

Bangalore, Jan. 6: City police armed with light meters are peering into cars with tinted windscreens and windows. If the tint is too dark, it could mean trouble for the car owner.

The administration’s sudden love of transparency follows the rape and murder of a BPO employee in her drop-off car last month as well as the attack on the Indian Institute of Science.

The police have begun testing vehicles, private and public, free of charge at the BRV Grounds. Owners who do not peel off the excess tint by January 15 will, if caught, have to pay a fine of Rs 100 in court.

According to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the windscreens (front and rear) should have a visual transmission of light not less than 70 per cent and the windows, not less than 50 per cent.

The police have also cracked down on the drivers of the city’s nearly 3,000 BPO “cabs” ' the hired cars that ferry about 75,000 employees from home to office and back, often late at night. It was the driver of one such car who raped and murdered Pratibha Murthy on the night of December 16.

A few days after the murder, the police caught at least 100 such drivers drunk on duty and booked 500 others on various traffic offences. The transport companies have been asked to rein in rash and negligent drivers.

The BPOs themselves are considering various safety measures, including fitting the cars out with global positioning systems (GPS) and getting the tint off the car windows and windscreens.

Amitabh Chaudhry, chief operating officer, Progeon, said GPS would be installed immediately in all vehicles hired by the company so that they can be tracked at any moment.

A human resources vice-president of another leading BPO said: “We have asked a vendor to demonstrate how the GPS works. Though it is expensive, it’s the only way we can keep a check on errant drivers who decide to slip off their route.”

Trade unions and women’s organisations have demanded that women are taken off night shifts, but the companies say this is not feasible since women make up nearly 40 per cent of their workforce.

One option all the companies are trying out is reworking the car roster so that a male employee gets picked up first and dropped off last.

Some BPO majors are already using a software that ensures this routine and works out an alternative route and roster in case one or both of the male employees drop out on a particular day. Others are trying to do this manually.

But one company’s security manager confessed: “Insisting on male colleagues being dropped off last has not really gone down too well with the boys. After a shift, everyone wants to get home first, especially at night.”

As an alternative, firms are considering deploying women security guards in the cars. Chaudhry said Progeon would love to employ female guards on routes where it is not possible to avoid a woman employee being dropped off last or picked up first.

“This is a tricky issue,” an executive said. “For one thing, a guard has to be on board always and that means one employee less on the pick-up. Second, after Pratibha’s incident, we cannot trust a male guard.”

The problem is, security agencies have very few women guards.

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