Vehicle owners complain of illegal penalties

ITAHARI/CHANDRANIGAPUR: Traffic police personnel in the eastern region have been accused of indulging in rampant corruption. They are allegedly extorting money from hapless motorists in the name of checking their vehicles.

Yagya Bahadur Thapa, chief, Regional Traffic Police Office, Itahari, is reportedly leading the extortion drive.

Vehicles passing through Itahari, Gachhiya, Belbari, Salakpur, Gothgaun, Pakali, Jhumka and Inaruwa along the East-West Highway are falling prey to the growing menace.

Vehicle owners complained that the police were threatening them with dire consequences in a bid to realise the sum. The drivers maintained that they were made to cough up the money even after furnishing all relevant documents like blue book and license.

A traffic policeman, however, ruled out any irregularity.

“The Regional Traffic Police Office at Itahari is issuing receipts against the collection of fines,” he claimed.

On the contrary, the money collected with fake receipts is being pocketed by officers, including the chief of Eastern Regional Traffic Police Office.

If the fine is less than Rs 200, then the ‘offender’ does not receive the receipt for reasons best known to the traffic police authorities. Other irregularities abound as well.

Though a modern buspark has been constructed at Itahari, vehicles are not parked here due to the callousness of the traffic personnel.

This correspondent stumbled upon the extortion drive at Gachhiya in Morang district three days ago.

The in-charge of the team, which was collecting the money at Gachhiya, revealed that the exercise was being conducted as per the direction of his senior officials.

The Himalayan Times caught the policemen red-handed.

Scared of their brazen acts would land them in deep trouble, the offenders urged this correspondent not to publish the photographs.

Meanwhile, Yagya Bahadur Thapa claimed that there was “nothing illegal about penalising the errant drivers”.

He owned up to certain irregularities at Gachhiya, promising to seek clarification from the in-charge there.

While, at Chandranigahpur in Rautahat district, which falls in central Tarai, similar offenses are being committed by the traffic police.

The police personnel are under pressure to collect a certain sum of money daily — a fact confirmed by the District Police Office at Chandranigahpur.

Random checks on vehicles are being carried out twice a day.

Figures revealed that Rs 6,000 was collected in Baishakh. Similarly, Rs 12,000 was collected from district headquarters Gaur during the corresponding period.

The fines, collected under various categories, range between Rs 25 and Rs 200.

Madan Yadav, Inspector, District Traffic Police Office, Rautahat, rubbished the extortion drive as rumours.