BJD’s Helmetless Bike Rally: Orissa High Court Frowns On Police Inaction

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Cuttack: Following a scathing report by the Amicus Curiae, the Orissa High Court has directed the DGP to file an affidavit regarding the alleged police inaction during a recent motorcycle rally by BJD in which hundreds of party workers drove bikes without wearing helmet.

The directive came when the HC was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on police reforms in the state, which it had registered suo motu based on Supreme Court order in March last year.

Reportedly, the HC also directed the Odisha government to file an affidavit indicating how many demonstrations, hartals and bandhs were organized across the state between March 16, 2013 and December 31, 2019.

What Amicus Curiae Said

Disapproving of the way Odisha police is collecting hefty fines from common citizens and turning blind eye when BJD members violate traffic rules, the Amicus Curiae in his report said, “Recently on December 26, 2019, there was a demonstration-cum-motor cycle rally by BJD from Master Canteen Square in Bhubaneswar to the party’s office wherein hundreds of members took part. All rules were thrown to the winds in this rally. Majority of the bike riders did not wear helmet. The state police, instead of apprehending them, gave protection to the members of the rally. On the contrary, the state police have been day in and out collecting lakhs of rupees from the common citizens for riding two-wheelers without wearing helmet.”

He added, “This biased and apathetic attitude of the police needs immediate reformation. Hence the Odisha DGP may file an affidavit as to why the rally was allowed to go through under police protection and without collecting fines from the bike riders. The DGP may be directed to immediately take action in this regard against the errant riders and submit an affidavit, and also take disciplinary action against the negligent officials.”

Social Media Backlash

Netizens too were quick to notice the violations and many took to Twitter and wondered whether police will initiate any action against the violators.

“Something is definitely missing and I guess it’s helmet,” wrote a Twitterati, Biswajit. In his tweet, he also tagged Odisha Police and Commissionerate Police and asked whether any action will be taken against the violators. Another Twitterati Omprakas Pattanaik quipped, “No helmet is required if you have a ruling party flag on your bike, even the traffic police will not stop you at AG Square.”

Police Promise Action

After the photographs of the helmetless bike rallyists went viral on social media, Commissionerate Police stepped into the matter. “We are already looking into the CCTV footage on violation of helmet rule during the rally and will launch prosecutions,” Commissionerate Police said in a tweet.

A senior police officer said they have started issuing challans to some of the violators.

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