Man pays small change as fine for not wearing helmet

AHMEDABAD: Umang Shah is just a block printer, but when he rides on the city roads, the traffic police scurries for

Shah, a maverick of sorts has paid a fine of around Rs 5,000 to the cops for not wearing a helmet - all in the smallest of change!

His family, which lives in the Khadia area of the Walled city, barring his son, strictly breaks the helmet rule, since it was enforced.

They feel that the rule is a kind of harassment.

Call it a Gandhigiri of sorts, but whenever the traffic police stops the Shahs, not only do they readily pay up the
fine but also give chocolates to the police.

Shah has become so popular or the police so fed-up with him that they have stopped collecting fines from them.

In the beginning, whenever the police detained him, Shah would pay the fine of Rs 50 in one-rupee coins. The police first got irritated, but they accepted the money.

Thus, Shah paid up almost Rs 500 as fine in Re-1 coins. Then, he paid up another Rs 500 in 50-paise coins.

However, he never lost his cool and told the cops he would never follow the rule.

Now all the traffic cops know him.

Recently, Shah changed the fine to denominations of 25 paise. If the police stopped him, he would hand a heavy pouch of 200 25-paise coins over to them.

"At first, they fought with me. I called up the police control room right there and told them that I was paying the fine in a currency that is in circulation, so you cannot refuse", he says.

When additional commissioner of police Vikas Sahay heard of this, he told his men that they were bound to accept the change, how much ever small.

Shah religiously goes to the RBI every month and replenishes his stock of change.

The problem for the police is that it takes nearly 30 minutes to count these 200 coins.

"I will pay even up to Rs 25,000 but won't wear the helmet," he says. "I ride at only 20 kmph and that too within the city. Besides, it's my head and my life," he said when TOI caught up with him at one such crossing.

( This is a true story which has been published in Times of India dated 20 Jul 2008.)

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