HOW SOCIAL MEDIA FORCED TRAFFIC POLICE TO ACT ON ITS OWN 

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How a Twitter hashtag forced Hyderabad’s traffic police to nab their own

Traffic police have now launched a counter hashtag “practicingwhatwepreach”, posting photos of challans issued to errant policemen.

Policemen without helmets; challans on traffic police’s handle

Hyderabad’s traffic police have launched a new crackdown on violators of rules on the road. And this time, they are targetting their own — policemen riding without helmets or registration plates, using mobile phones while driving, or travelling on the wrong side.

The initiative was prompted by the social media hashtag “practicewhatyoupreach” that was first posted by Amjed Ullah Khan of the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), a local political outfit, who started posting photos of policemen flouting traffic rules.

Traffic police have now launched a counter hashtag “practicingwhatwepreach”, posting photos of challans issued to errant policemen.

“Traffic rules apply to everyone, whether it is the common man or a policeman. We noticed a number of photos posted by people on our Twitter and Facebook accounts of policemen violating rules, and decided to take action. We now post photos of violators and challans issued on our Twitter handle so that the public knows we are not letting errant policemen get away,’’ says A V Rangnath, DCP (Traffic).

According to Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy, some policemen have been issued “internal memos” for violating traffic rules.

Says Khan, “Those who are implementing the law should also follow it. Even for minor traffic misdemeanors, traffic police issue huge fines but the policemen themselves violate the laws. So I started clicking photos of policemen riding without helmets, travelling on the wrong side or talking on mobile phones while driving, and tweeted them, tagging the Telangana DGP, Police Commissioner and Hyderabad Police.”

Within a few days, Khan posted more than 50 such photos on his Twitter handle.

Khan says he was also irked by traffic police issuing statements about record collections of fines from violators, “when policemen themselves go scot-free while violating the same laws”.

“It seems they set a target for themselves and go about catching people and fining them. The roads in the city are in a very bad condition with Metro Rail work going on at many places and people take shortcuts to avoid traffic jams. The police mercilessly challan them instead of managing traffic,’’ says Khan.

Khan’s campaign went viral and more than 400 photos of traffic violations by policemen in Hyderabad were posted online, forcing police to swing into action.

“I captioned the photos with dates, time and location so that they could not deny the facts. I started receiving photos from other citizens, too. Today, I am glad that Hyderabad Police have finally reacted,’’ he says.

“Police will get respect if they also respect the law,’’ says K Krishna Kumar, a Hyderabad resident who “contributed to the campaign” by posting several photos.

In response, the Hyderabad Traffic Police have posted photos of more than 50 challans issued to policemen along with details of names and designations, and reasons for the challans.

For instance, on September 4, Moghulpura station Sub-Inspector T Rajesh was issued a memo and asked to report to police headquarters after being challaned for not wearing a helmet. “We are overwhelmed by the response from citizens who are praising police for taking police officials violating rules to task,” says Commissioner Reddy.

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