A woman driving to her office on Tuesday morning was prosecuted for obstructing the thoroughfare after she protested the decision to close the Parama flyover apparently for the movement of ‘a VIP’.
Liza Rahman, a resident of Mukundapur on the eastern fringes of Kolkata, was heading for her workplace at Bankshall court in the central business district when the incident happened between 9.45am and 10am.
On approaching the Parama flyover from south, she found the city-bound flank closed. A sergeant posted there was signaling commuters to take the alternate route through JBS Haldane Avenue, which runs below the flyover through Park Circus, she said.
“I found the flyover closed to the public almost every day at this time. The detour results in 30 extra minutes. Today, I decided to ask the policeman and he told me that the flyover was closed because of the governor’s movement. I asked the cop whether he could show any notification for the closure. He could not show any document,” Rahman told The Telegraph.
She said as she insisted on a formal order for the closure of the flank, cops called a wrecker van and attached her car to it.
Video footage captured by Rahman showed a number of cars and motorcycles queued up behind her vehicle.
Many of the commuters came forward and asked why the police were towing away only the woman’s car when so many other vehicles were also lined up.
The sergeant, as seen in the video, kept saying that an alternative route was open.
“They tried to tow my vehicle away but I managed to lock the front tyres and so they could not drag my car,” Rahman said.
After a few minutes, the flyover was opened for traffic and the vehicles that had queued behind Liza’s car started moving. Rahman’s car was released, too.
But a few minutes later, around 10.08am, she received a text message from Kolkata traffic police informing her that she had been prosecuted under Sections 122 and 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act for obstruction of thoroughfare, she said.
The text message mentioned that she would have to pay a fine of Rs 500.
“When they could not tow my vehicle away, they imposed a fine on me for obstruction of the road! But my car was parked on the landing of the flyover, at a time when the city-bound flank was closed. So there was no question of obstructing other vehicles. The sergeant kept saying the alternative road was open. Hence, I had not obstructed anyone,” Rahman said.
“When the flyover was opened, I immediately wanted to go but the wrecker van was obstructing my way.”
Joint commissioner (traffic) Santosh Pandey said: “Traffic police personnel take certain calls for smooth flow of traffic and people are expected to follow the directions. The purpose is not to cause inconvenience to anyone but to properly manage traffic in the entire sector.”
Another officer of the traffic department in Kolkata police said they were bound to keep the flyover closed for a few minutes as a safety protocol during “VIP movements”.
Asked if it was the correct decision to tow away the vehicle, the officer said: “Ultimately, the vehicle was not towed. The owner was only prosecuted.”
Rahman said she would challenge the prosecution and write to the traffic police.