Nope, it’s not a hoax but indeed an order from the Government of Gujarat to the police force of that state. As per the Government of Gujarat, nobody will have to pay a traffic fine in Gujarat, between the 21st and 27th of October, 2022, the period that coincides with Diwali/Deepawali – the festival of lights. Common fines such as not wearing a helmet, seatbelts, and riding in the wrong side of the road will be excused, and vehicle owners will not be penalized during this year’s Diwali week. Instead, traffic offenders will be given flowers.
Meanwhile, here is what Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi had to say about the relaxation in traffic rules,
From October 21 to October 27, the traffic police in Gujarat will not collect any fine from people. If anyone is caught without a helmet or driving licence or found violating any other traffic rule during this period, our police will give them a flower.
Mr. Sanghavi also added that the ‘decision to give people relief from traffic fines during Diwali has been taken by the state’s home department as per the guidance of the chief minister of Gujarat Mr. Bhupendra Patel. Gujarat is the home state of prime minister Narendra Modi, and goes to the polls later this year.
Whatever be the reason for the relaxation in rules for traffic fines in Gujarat, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the state – tasked with implementing the rule of law – is encouraging citizens to brazenly flout them by withdrawing fines. Such moves will only encourage motorists to flout rules, and make Indian roads more unsafe than ever.
Don’t break rules: Insurance companies likely to dishonor claims
While the Gujarat state government will not penalize traffic offences between 21st and 27th of October, 2022, motorists must remember that insurance companies will most certainly to dishonor claims arising from accidents where the driver/rider of the vehicle does not hold a valid driving license. Any major accident during this period of rule relaxation will also result in severe repercussions, and the full force of law will apply. So, it’s very important to follow road rules no matter what the government says. Life is precious, and please drive/ride carefully.
Safety precautions while driving/riding during Diwali/Deepawali
A time of great festive fervour across India, Diwali/Deepawali is celebrated with crackers. Crackers obviously carry a fire risk, and are often burst on roads outside homes. As a motorist, your risk level amplifies when you ride/drive on a road where crackers are being set off. If you’re a two wheeler rider, make sure that you wear a helmet and specifically protect your eyes while riding out during Diwali.
As a car driver, keep all windows closed while driving by roads where crackers are being set off. Also, avoid driving/riding thickly populated residential pockets when crackers are being burst. Should you have no option but to drive through such roads, stop and proceed after the crackers go off.