MUMBAI: A female traffic constable who intercepted a mini-tempo without a numberplate and stumbled upon a stash of gutkha worth Rs 7 lakh inside, was selected as the department’s first ‘Hero of the Month’. Bhagyashri Jagtap (30), mother of a five-year-old, received the award from head of the traffic branch, joint commissioner Yashasvi Yadav, for exemplary work.
Jagtap was on duty at Marve Road, regulating traffic, when her superior had taken a short break to grab lunch on December 23. Around 2.30pm, Jagtap noticed a mini-tempo without a number plate and gestured to the driver to halt. She asked for his driving licence but he did not have one.
“The driver claimed the number plate had broken and refused to move the vehicle to a corner, which got me riled up,” Jagtap said. The constable asked the driver what he was carrying but he said the vehicle was empty.
“When the traffic light turned green, the mini-tempo’s presence caused a traffic jam. After arguing, the driver moved the vehicle to a corner. I made him open up the vehicle’s boot and was stunned to find sacks with a nasty odour. I asked him why he had lied but he said it was only a courier company’s ‘maal’ (material) he was delivering to earn a few rupees,” Jagtap said. He could not provide the courier company’s name.
The constable took away the vehicle keys and started poking the sacks. She slit one of them open and found gutkha packets inside. Meanwhile, the driver fled, leaving behind the cleaner. “My concern was that his associate would flee too. So, I told him to get into the mini-tempo and I sat inside with him,” she said. She called the control room for help and the vehicle was taken to Malwani police station.
The driver, Shaban Khan, was later tracked down and arrested. Jagtap, whose husband is a constable, said the recognition had motivated her to work harder. Her photograph will be put up at the traffic police headquarters.
Besides awarding a cop for exemplary work every month, the traffic department has also started giving cash rewards to personnel who challan a high number of vehicles for parking violations. “The reward amount is calculated on the basis of the number of cases we make and will be credited to our bank accounts,” said constable Shashikant Chavan of Sahar division, who detected 358 cases within a fortnight.