The 2000 batch IPS officer Basant Rath, belonging to Odisha, is the hot topic on social media these days as after recently being posted as IGP (Traffic) he has proved that a single officer can make a difference by regulating the chaotic traffic on the roads of Jammu and Kashmir.
Rath himself is on the streets to discipline chronic violators in Jammu and Srinagar. His efforts to streamline movement of traffic showed positive results within a few hours of his taking over as chief of the traffic police that was earlier accused of being one of the most corrupt departments of J&K Police. The traffic wing might shed its corruption taint if Rath is allowed to continue in the post, most people believe.
Large crowds, that are absent even during the visit of any minister of the state, follow Rath when he comes out on the streets to personally check the flow of vehicular traffic and penalise violators. They cheer, shoot videos and click his action pictures to post on social media. Motorists and two-wheeler riders have overnight become disciplined drivers and most of them follow traffic signals.
More than 400 vehicles have been seized in the two cities during the past few days for violating traffic rules. The 16-seater matadors that are the economical mode of passenger transport in the cities and towns of J&K are no longer overloaded and auto-rickshaw operators have reluctantly installed meters on their vehicles.
However, this bid to discipline traffic was not appreciated by certain political leaders, some colleagues of Rath and the transport mafia who have joined hands to unleash a smear campaign against the police officer.
Rath, who belongs to a family of small farmers in Odisha and did his post-graduation in sociology from Bhubaneswar, was allocated the J&K cadre after he joined the IPS in 2000. He is considered an upright officer and seized the car of a relative of his colleague IGP for allegedly violating the traffic rules.
A BJP minister’s husband recently led a procession shouting slogans against Rath for having got encroachments on roads by shopkeepers removed. Another legislator from Kashmir was so angry with Rath that he described him as “insane” and urged Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to immediately remove him from the post.
But Rath is unfazed by such controversies. His unusual style of policing is being liked by the people and his actions have become a topic of discussion among the youth and women during kitty parties.
The roads of Jammu and Srinagar, where huge traffic jams and erratic driving would shoot up the blood pressure of motorists, are now witnessing smooth flow of vehicles and Rath has won a large number of fans.
Amid criticism of Rath’s style of functioning by a section of politicians and
traders, the Director General of Police SP Vaid, recently shot him a letter warning him “against violation of the service conduct rules”. “A number of videos, posts and pictures are being circulated