Traffic policemen hardly ever dare to stop cars for violating traffic rules as most of the vehicles that disregard the rules are owned by influential people who can have the policemen reprimanded or even transferred.
A number of traffic policemen requesting anonymity said their colleagues on several occasions had got reprimands or were transferred for taking actions against offenders in lawmakers, top government officials, businesspeople and media persons.
Citing an example, a traffic sergeant said his colleague around six months ago had stopped a private car at Matshya Bhaban intersection for running a red light.
The female passenger, who was a government top official, started scolding the traffic policeman which led to an altercation. “At one stage, she telephoned a state minister, who asked the policeman to let her go. The next morning my colleague was transferred to New Market area,” the sergeant told The Daily Star.
A constable at Mirpur said most of the violators are lawmakers or their relatives, top government officials, pro-ruling party Bangladesh Chhatra League activists and journalists. Some use a new kind of horns in their vehicles that sound like sirens of emergency vehicles.
“If we stop their vehicles for violating traffic rules, they reprimand us and call our superiors,” the constable said.
“If any such violators distort facts and file complaints against us, our bosses most of the times believe them,” said a sergeant.
“As a result, our bosses rebuke us for our 'misconduct', which is not true in most cases. So, it is better for everyone if we do not go after the violators as their cars, if stopped, clog up the roads further,” he added.
The sergeant said people stuck in traffic jams hurl abusive words at them when the car of an influential person goes down the wrong side of the road. “Even then we do nothing and pretend that we are not hearing anything,” the sergeant said.
“If I take action against any law breaker who happens to be an influential person, I might be transferred to another district,” said another sergeant who was on duty at Asad Gate.
"My daughter goes to a school in Dhaka and I need to stay here. So, I never dare to take any legal action,” added the sergeant.
A number of traffic sergeants and constables told The Daily Star they felt helpless when a vehicle bearing the national flag or carrying lawmakers or top officials violated traffic rules and went down the wrong side of the road.
Flag-bearing vehicles often bully sergeants into stopping traffic flow on major thoroughfares and allow them to pass. “I have to stop the traffic flow on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue every now and then to let these vehicles pass,” said a sergeant.
When contacted, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka traffic refused to answer any question related to the things they have to do when rule breakers throw their weights around.
In March 2005, Ali Kader, son of the then ruling BNP lawmaker from Jessore-1, beat up a traffic constable on Manik Mia Avenue for stopping his vehicle for violating the signal.
Constable Abdul Majid had to have three stitches at Suhrawardy Hospital for wounds on the left side of his forehead.
In June 2010, the then Awami League lawmaker Ilias Uddin Mollah of Dhaka-15 constituency assaulted a sergeant at Ashulia. In a case filed later, the sergeant said the lawmaker had swooped on him when he failed to answer him why his vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam.
The current state of the case could not be known.