‘No Helmet, No Petrol’ in Bengal, ‘No Compromise’, Add Petrol Pump Staff
Helmets are a must in Kolkata for years. But the rule is more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
Now Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has declared a new rule: no helmet, no petrol.
When 24-year-old Isha drives up at a petrol pump to tank up minus a helmet, he is turned away. “I completely forgot,” he pleads with the petrol pump staff. “I will wear a helmet next time, but this time please adjust.”
Bipin, the petrol pump worker he tries to cajole, is unmoved: “No, no adjustment. No helmet no petrol. We will not break the rule.”
The staff at this south Kolkata petrol pump have an extra reason to be firm. On Saturday, the day the rule came into force, they were thrashed by helmetless young men who would not take no for an answer.
Ram S Mahato, the manager, says: “Six boys came on two motorbikes without helmets, asked for petrol. I said no. They said we will beat you up. I still refused. So they started beating all the staff up. We had to call the police. ”
In fact, the petrol pump was shut for some hours as police cooled tempers. When it reopened, pump workers were more determined to enforce the rule.
Their resolve is tested by angry bikers like Mohammad Akhtar, 40, who drove in wearing a cap instead of a helmet. When he was refused petrol, he was furious.
“You find motorcyclists going on the road without helmets, that’s ok. But not at petrol pumps! Next, they will say wear a helmet at home. Or wear a helmet while walking on the road. This is not on,” he said.
But Mamata Banerjee has laid down the law. On Friday, launching the safety drive, she also announced that motorcyclists would not be allowed on the city’s flyovers from 10 pm to 6 am. “No racing without helmets anymore,” she said, adding, “Too many lives are being lost.”
Recently, Kerala introduced the same rule for bikers.
anandabazar patrika epaper 13/07/2016 : http://www.anandabazar.com