SoBo bikers create WhatsApp group to ‘alert’ motorists about nakabandis, cops aware but helpless

SoBo bikers create WhatsApp group to 'alert' motorists about nakabandis, cops aware but helpless
On-duty traffic policemen (Inset: A screengrab from one of the WhatsApp groups, courtesy: Jitendra Dixit)

A group of ‘good samaritan’ bikers from South Mumbai have taken it upon themselves to alert fellow motorists about the presence of nakabandis around the city, much to the dismay of the traffic police.

At least a dozen or so groups exist within the city today, each with different admins, but the same modus operandi – if you spot a police roadblock, alert others.

Although the first WhatsApp group of the kind was created by a bunch of bikers from Pydhonie a few months back, the idea quickly went viral and spawned copies.

As of today, approximately 300 to 500 members are a part of such groups in total. Most of them, unsurprisingly, fairly active in their duties.

According to a member, the first group was created to simply avoid running into cops irrespective of whether one was skirting the law.

“In the past, there were times when my friends and I were stopped by cops randomly. Even if we weren’t breaking the law, it just took time to show the documents and get on our way. Since there are a lot of arterial roads in South Mumbai, where we all stay, we can avoid running into cops most times if we know where they have placed a roadblock. That’s how the idea was born,” said the member on the condition of anonymity.

According to him, WhatsApp seemed like the most convenient way of bringing everyone under one roof and quickly spreading information.

When asked about the group being used by possible offenders, he agrees that some people might have ulterior motives.

“I know some people who only use it for that. They travel within a one or two km radius of their home or office throughout the day, sometimes without carrying their license or wearing a helmet. For them, its very frustrating to keep getting caught for such offences everyday. There are some people who also ride triple seat due to lack of options,” he said.

The member also admitted that the groups are not restricted to South Mumbai anymore.

Anyone who finds the idea useful can create a similar group for their area among their friends and invite others who are willing to contribute.

“From what I know, there are at least a dozen groups like this and they cover central Mumbai and Western suburbs as well,” he added.

The police are in the know about such groups, but there is little that can be done.

According to an official with Lower Parel traffic police, there is no law against posting traffic related updates. So we might have explicitly introduce one to ban such groups and then take action against the admins and members.

The police also feel that the members might be putting other’s lives at risk by sharing such information.

“What is someone was driving rashly or under influence? For the safety of everyone involved, we want to stop such motorists and book them. But if they know where we have added roadblocks and are able to dodge them, how exactly do we keep the roads safe?,” he argued, adding that the groups are primarily used by those who are breaking the law.

Reportedly, over 500 people are booked by the traffic police in South Mumbai every day, with a majority caught for riding without a helmet.

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