Many residents of Bengaluru have reported that their vehicle was towed even though they had not violated any rules.

Two-wheelers being towed in Bengaluru on a busy street Twitter/Sriaxis
news Traffic Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 12:29

On August 29, Shashank Bharadwaj, a media professional from Bengaluru, noticed that his two-wheeler was missing from the spot he had parked at, on Indiranagar’s Main Road 12. On enquiring at the nearest traffic signal, he learnt that the city traffic police had towed his vehicle. When he reached the spot where towed vehicles are parked near the Indiranagar police station, he was asked to pay a fine of Rs 1,150.

“I was in Indiranagar that day for a meeting. I parked my vehicle on Main Road 12 as there was no ‘no-parking’ sign. However, by the time my meeting ended, my vehicle had been towed. When I went to retrieve my vehicle, the traffic police insisted that I violated the parking rules and demanded money. Although I agreed to pay a fine of Rs 1,150 but demanded challan, however, the officer refused to issue one,” said Shashank. 

After two towing staff were assaulted on August 20, the Bengaluru city Police Commissioner Kamal Pant issued SOPs for towing of vehicles which mandated the towing staff to collect pictorial evidence of violation as well. “Accordingly, I asked for pictorial proof of my alleged violation. However, the official refused to do so and insisted that my vehicle was obstructing the traffic, although it was not,” alleged Shashank, adding that the protocol for towing was not followed.

The professional told TNM that he finally had to pay Rs 300 and get his vehicle since it was raining heavily and the night curfew was in effect.

Shashank’s experience is not an isolated incident. Many residents of Bengaluru have reported that their vehicle was towed even though they had not violated any rules. They also complained the officials demanded exorbitant fines to retrieve their vehicle and did not issue a challan either.

Vinay (name changed), who works as a teacher in the city, shared that a similar incident that took place a fortnight ago. His vehicle was towed from the same spot in Indiranagar and the towing staff demanded Rs 1,500 to let him take his vehicle. “The incident happened around 7.30 pm. The shopkeepers in the area directed me to the spot near Indiranagar police station. I was not issued a challan and the towing staff collected Rs 1,000 as a fine for ‘violating’ parking rules,” said Vinay.

Tara Krishnaswamy, a citizen activist based in Bengaluru, said that the current system of the traffic police is driven by collecting revenue through fines. “The city roads have poor signage or the signages are vague. The towing companies contracted by the police use convenient ways to charge fines. Instead of regulating the traffic, the police officials have an attitude of collecting fines. The traffic police need to reorient their goals,” said Tara.

Srinivas Alavilli of Janaagraha, a non-profit organisation in Bengaluru, pointed out that the first priority should be to implement the new parking policy everywhere in Bengaluru, bring all available parking spaces into central paid parking system which is well designed and already implemented in some streets. "A lot of frustration comes from the fact that no parking zones are not clearly marked- the traffic police and the BBMP must do this before they start towing vehicles and levying fines for parking violations," he added. 

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