Villagers Upset over the Traffic Sentinel Implementation, Evicts a Shopkeeper for Reporting Traffic Violations

We want others to follow the traffic regulations, drive slow, do not park in no parking zone or enter into the no entry but, when it comes to us, we excuse ourselves saying it was the need of an hour. The Traffic cell of Goa had started a new drive called “Traffic Sentinel” to empower the general public to participate in better management of traffic on Goan roads. In this scheme, any person that reports a traffic violation by capturing the photo/video of the defaulting vehicle earns the reward points and in return get cash rewards from Traffic Department. But this scheme went wrong when a non-Goan shopkeeper started reporting the traffic violations, he was thrown out of his rented shop by the angry villagers.

According to the reports, over 500 locals of Shiroda received notices for traffic violations with a fine ranging from rupees 200-500. On further discovery, they realized that these violations were all recorded near Goa Bagayatdar office while traveling along the Shiroda-Ponda road. What followed in the next day was tension and chaotic atmosphere in the location that even police found it hard to control.

The locals received notices for violating traffic while traveling through the Shiroda-Ponda road, demanding fine.  The locals realized that these incidents were recorded by the CCTV camera that is installed outside of a mobile shop that is located on the same road. The angry mob reached the shop on a Sunday morning, demanding the shopkeeper to shut his business down and vacate the village. On learning that over 200 people gather around the shop, the police personnel which included Ponda PI Harish Madcaikar and his team rushed to spot and tried to pacify them.

Ramanuj Gupta, the alleged shopkeeper, was from Bihar and resided in Goa from past thirty years. He had installed CCTV footage in front of his shop in order to record and report Traffic violations that occurred in the nearby road. This was done due to the new government scheme called Traffic Sentinel in Goa. According to which, any person can report traffic violations by capturing a photo or video of the person violating the traffic rules. In return of this reports, the person earns points and will eventually win cash rewards. On realizing these, the locals were enraged and wanted to close his business down.

According to Navhind Times, the locals had confronted the shopkeeper in the Saturday evening, on account of not getting a satisfactory reply; they decided to gather around in front of his shop. Gupta had his mobile shop business on rented premises of a building. On learning this, the mobs contacted the owner of the building and demanded on canceling his contract and force him to vacate.

According to Herald Goa, the mob alleged that due to the information reported by Gupta, they were yet to receive another 600 notices. Gupta offered to pay the fines but the angry crowd did not relent and accused him of running the business illegally. They were so furious that they did not let anyone capture or record on them, fearing that criminal charges might be registered against them. However, in the end, the mob was successful in getting his license terminated and Gupta shifted on the same day at around 2.30 pm.

The irked villagers evicted the shopkeeper from the rented premises (Image source: Navhind Times)

This incident caused a tensed atmosphere in Shiroda Market. The heavy force deployed managed the situation to prevent it from getting worse. But this case indeed drew some mixed opinions, on both sides. The question here is, what would have been the reaction of the villagers if the shopkeeper happens to be a local? What is the point of implementing Traffic Sentinel when people do not want to stop the violations and punish the person who reports the violation? Do we need law and order in the state or not?? 

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