Trucking together with the highs and the lows


Nehchal Sandhu

Excited about my first substantive jurisdictional cost after 36 months of institutional and area coaching, my spouse and I made our approach to Koderma (now a district in Jharkhand) in an aged however completely functioning Baby Hindustan, a re-badged Morris Minor, within the mid-1970s. Briefings by my boss, my indolent predecessor and colleagues appeared to recommend that I’d have a straightforward time since crime incidence was low. Also, protests and different disturbances of public order had been uncommon. The city inhabitants of about 60,000 individuals in two foci — Koderma and the dual cities of Jhumri Tilaiya — and rural inhabitants of about 2,40,000 within the 1,500 sq. kilometre space, engaged basically in single-crop agriculture and mining of mica and processing it for export, appeared fairly contented.

My sense of complacency was quickly ruptured as dacoities and robberies started to happen with disturbing frequency on highways passing by my jurisdiction — the Grand Trunk Road and the Patna-Ranchi freeway. After fumbling for months, decoy operations had been tried and people yielded good outcomes. The highways grew to become safe once more, a lot to the delight of truckers working on them — their frustrations with the police gave approach to appreciation. And, expectedly, a rapport developed. That a lot of the truck drivers had been from northern Indian states, together with many from Punjab, helped — they’d discovered a kinsman in uniform who had delivered them from an extended persisting distressful scenario.

In the resultant denouement, truckers started to freely share their considerations. One associated to the stealthy removing of cartons of goodies from loaded vehicles as they painfully slowly negotiated a thickly-wooded ascending stretch of the GT Road close to the jap bounds of my remit. An enterprising colleague steered that we co-opt a few truck drivers transporting biscuits and such items (favoured by the thieves) — among the consignment in the direction of the rear of the truck can be offloaded, and the tarpaulin put again after two-three agile policemen in uniform had been inserted into the ‘cavity’ so created. A few weeks later, because the thieves struck one among such vehicles and three-four cartons had been pulled off onto the street, the policemen emerged and had been capable of apprehend two of the miscreants. Follow-up arrests of all of the gang members resulted in termination of this prison enterprise.

As tales about profitable police operations in opposition to criminals started to populate truckers’ lore, some drivers reached out to go on data in confidence. Much of it was about exactions at state police boundaries by taxation officers and by policemen deployed alongside the highways. The latter being of a lot concern, it was determined to arrange deception plans when it comes to exhibiting eager curiosity in wildlife considerable at the moment within the rolling hills of what’s now northern Jharkhand. Frequent nightly forays into deep jungles had been made, in the direction of suggesting to subordinates that senior police ranges wouldn’t conduct freeway patrols, as was the observe when freeway crime was rampant.

Midway by a chilly winter evening, a circuitous route was adopted by the jungle to get on to the GT Road at an obscure unpopulated level. The first truck was stopped and we boarded it. We had not even pushed a few miles earlier than we noticed an oncoming truck driver sign with a vigorous wave of his hand to the motive force of our truck, who instantly slowed down. On our insistence, he hesitatingly revealed that the oncoming driver had warned a few police naka on the subsequent freeway junction. It took a lot persuasion to make the motive force carry us in the direction of the naka. There was an extended line of vehicles on the street. And, lo and behold, we noticed my Inspector in full regalia seated at a desk being assisted by two policemen in amassing Rs10 from every truck. The portly Inspector and one among his assistants had been rapidly overpowered and divested of their ‘loot’; legislation guided the disciplinary and prison proceedings that ensued and far publicity adopted.

On one other evening, we stopped a truck on the freeway to investigate about street situations. Noticing that we had alighted from a police jeep, and unmindful of who it is perhaps, the motive force thrust his driving licence with a Rs10 observe neatly folded therein. That a police Inspector had been ‘nabbed in the act’ solely a few weeks earlier was clearly not adequate to persuade him that extortion by police had stopped, no less than in that jurisdiction.

One night, an aged Sikh driver reported at my workplace {that a} dhaba run by a retired truck driver was offering solid street permits. An evening raid ensued. Despite wanting into each nook and cranny, nothing was discovered. It was then {that a} disgruntled worker sidled up and disclosed that the dhaba proprietor’s spouse had slipped all of the types and rubber stamps into her pyjamas. There being no policewomen in my jurisdiction, a girl resident of the close by village needed to be cajoled to help and the resultant search resulted in seizure of the incriminating materials. Dismantling of this facility for solid paperwork did trigger resentment amongst infamous drivers.

But, general, we had lots of completely happy campers amongst truck drivers. Contented with their lot, happy with their modest earnings, inured to a life filled with motion, unperturbed by the challenges thrown up infrequently, these completely happy campers assist the financial system of the nation.



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