Preventing peeing in the open with toffees a la Gandhigiri

Lucknow, Jan 4 (IANS) Here’s one more form of Gandhigiri: Police in this Uttar Pradesh capital are handing out toffees to those caught peeing in the open in a bid to get them to kick the pernicious habit.

The move was kick-started from Vijaynagar in the state capital, where the Burra Nullah (big drain) culvert had become an impossible place to drive through owing to the stench of urine and the sight of people defecating in open.
The move has already left some people red-faced after being “caught in the act”. It is likely to be adopted by other police stations in the city too.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Lucknow Navneit Sikera, lauding the move, said that the image of the police was the among the highest priorities in the new year. “Other than providing security, the police is also trying to undergo an image makeover, proving itself a friendly force,” he told IANS.
Inspector Vijay Prakash, the man behind the initiative, said frequent threats and warnings failed to elicit a response and people refused to stop using the roadside on the culvert between the Nathha and Naka intersections as a lavatory. Even posting a policeman at the “hot spot” failed to prevent men from taking a leak. That was when police decided to do some Gandhigiri, he said, using a term made familiar by the movie “Lage Raho Munnaibhai”, the sequel to the hugely popular “Munnabhai MBBS”.
Officials told IANS that in the past few days, they were “gifting” toffees to everyone who urinated in public.
“When a man returns after peeing, the cop posted here is asked to gently hand over a toffee to the person. The policeman might also politely requests the man not to repeat the act.
Officers now chuckle that the move is producing results. The fear of khakhi (the colour of a policeman’s uniform), is writ large among people and the offer of a toffee is an adequate deterrent, an officer said.
He, however, admitted that the immediate replication of the move in other parts of the state capital might not be possible as there were not enough public toilets in the city.
“This is nature’s call. We cannot prevent people from answering it if they have no alternative places,” the officer said, adding that Lucknow’s civic body should take the matter up as a priority issue.
In a related development, the traffic department has decided to befriend roadside vendors and take their help in maintaining traffic in the areas where they put up their temporary vends and kiosks. The scheme, on the lines of ‘Police Mitra’ (police friend) would essentially ask the vendors not to breach the “yellow line” boundary on streets and roads and actively participate in traffic monitoring, so that jams can be quickly eased, an official said.
“Most traffic bottlenecks in the city are owing to encroachments by roadside vendors and we propose to use the trouble makers as solution-providers,” a senior traffic policeman said.
The Uttar Pradesh Police is arguably the world’s largest police force. It has long been notorious for high-handedness and brutality, but in 2014, the force seems determined to turn a new leaf.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)