'Shouldn't those who implement the law, also follow the law?'
It’s a simple but powerful question that Hyderabad’s residents are asking. And it’s making waves on social media.
Kickstarted by Amjed Ullah Khan, a Hyderabad-based politician from the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), #Practicewhatyoupreach aims at getting policemen, and especially traffic policemen, follow the rules that they implement.
Over the past week, Khan has been constantly tweeting photos and videos of policemen flouting the rules, to Telangana DGP Anurag Sharma and the Telangana Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K T Rama Rao.
Khan manages to get photos of several police personnel either not wearing a helmet, riding triples or speaking on a mobile phone while riding.
The response from the public has been overwhelming, with many joining him in the campaign, and sending photos and videos to him, using the same hashtag, and tagging the authorities.
"I can't say that it’s my campaign anymore. So many people have joined in, and my WhatsApp chats are flooded. I have been sent more than 300 photos in the last few days alone," Khan tells TNM.
The tweets mention the time and area where the photograph was taken, along with proof of the violation committed by the police personnel, leaving no scope for excuses from the authorities.
When asked about how it began, Khan says, "There was a lot of discussion about how the Hyderabad traffic police was issuing several challans everyday, much to the inconvenience of commuters."
"The roads in the city are already terrible, and the Metro Rail work has made things harder. At such a time, instead of managing the traffic, policemen are busy issuing challans. College students say that there were situations where they were issued two challans in a single day," he adds.
Khan also says that the challan rate is too high, taking the example of the 'helmet rule' that attracts a fine of Rs 2,000.
"If a student pays Rs 2,000, his entire pocket money for the month will be done. Instead, the police should focus on awareness campaigns promoting road safety," he contends.
Khan narrates several instances where fines were issued arbitrarily. An auto driver was fined for stopping his vehicle for a minute, to another youth who was fined when he went out in a hurry to buy some medicines for his father.
"They fine us for not wearing a seat belt, but I don't see a single person in a minister's convoy wearing one. They constantly fine us for not wearing a helmet, but do nothing when policemen ride around without one. I decided that enough is enough, and it was time to show them the mirror," Khan says.
Alleging that many policemen have been 'ordered' to issue at least 100 challans a day, Khan says, "They are being given a target to fulfill, so that they can fill up the empty coffers of the Hyderabad police department."
Another problem that Khan claimed to face, was that police were not willing to fine personnel from the traffic police, even when proof is provided. To solve this, he took to social media.
"Since I'm tagging KTR and the DGP directly, it has a much bigger impact. The police's social media handles are even responding to me now, after the DGP took notice of my tweets," Khan said.
"Just like the traffic police are worried about us, we are also worried about them. They should also be safe, and not die in accidents," Khan remarks sarcastically.
Last month, authorities decided to implement the penalty point system in Hyderabad, and introduced it on August 1.
Under this new system, penalty points have been fixed for different traffic violations. If the motorist exceeds 12 penalty points, their driving license would be suspended for a year.
Khan asks if the police will also implement the same system and add points for its own officers who break the law.
Getting back to his latest campaign, Khan says, "A democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people, and police officers are not exempt from this. We have just started the campaign, but we are planning to do much more."
Khan says he plans to make large banners with a collage of all the photographs that he has been receiving and hang them across the city, questioning if they will be prosecuted too.
"Since the law is equal for everyone, we are asking them to change themselves, and practice what they preach. Our demand is that any police officer who gets issued more than three challans, should be suspended," Khan says.
"The government has given helmets along with each 'blue colt' vehicle, but policemen never use it. If you are working for my safety on the roads, you should lead by example," Khan concludes.