“win or loose – stand-up or give-in”

Having experience in dealing with cops might be an unforgettable experience for any one travelling along the Galle Road. Well this is based on a true story happened recently.A team of two Canadians and a local staff member of Organization working on a post tsunami project set out to Galle from Ahungalla in a PG Martin van around 8 a.m. hoping to be in Matara by 9.30 a.m. and after travelling for about twenty minutes may be at a average speed of about 60 Kmph was stopped by a so called traffic OIC just 19 Km before Galle.

The stop was un-noticed and sudden as the driver never expected the cop to be at that joint. Normally in practice the speeding drivers have instincts of the hot spots where these cops tend to hide themselves to jump at the speeding, good-looking vehicles.

Innocent Paul stops the van and gets down and started walking towards the cop and smiles at the cop. The cop takes a look at the van and says “suddo ne da?” (its foreigners, isn’t it?) Paul answers “ow sir” and at the same point the cops says that the van was travelling at 60 kmph and the speed limit is 58 kmph (the real speed limit in town areas is 50 kmph and out of the town area it is 60 kmph) showing the speeding gun to Paul. Innocent Paul tries to explain the cop that it is a Canadian mission heading to the Matara District Secretariat for a meeting at 9.30 a.m. and they are behind schedule. The cop doesn’t accept it and ask Paul to give his driving licenses (DL). Paul goes back to the van to get the DL and asks the local mission to come and speak to the cop to get a chance.

The local mission comes with his ID issued by his organization (which is normally accepted by the cops at check points) and explains the scene. The cop doesn’t even bother looking at the ID and instead demand for the DL of the driver. Innocent Paul not having an option gives his DL to the cop and he starts writing the ticket. Then the cop pulls out a pink color book and makes another note. While writing the ticket Paul continues to bother the cop asking not to write the chit. The cop answers Paul saying “it is good to have a chit so that you can continue to speed”. At this point the cop notices the name of the driver. It said Paul, with his initials on the DL. Apparently the DL was a temporary DL issued for one year. The cop asks the driver, “whats your name?” the driver answers “Paul Raj” and the cop immediately responds saying that “demala ne da” (are you tamil). Paul very humbly says yes.

Then the cop asks Paul his address and Paul says that it is the address in the DL. Then the cop goes “thamuse gedara address eka wath danne nadda” (don’t you even know your home address?) sigh goes Paul and tells the address. Then the cop demands Paul to show his wallet. Paul gives his wallet to the cop. He says that he wanted to see whether Paul had his original permanent DL in his wallet. The cop sees two 500 rupee notes and a 100 rupee note, a bunch of notes, bills, and some cards in the wallet.

Gives the wallet back to Paul and signed the ticket after filling it off. Then takes that pink book out and writes down something on it. Paul continues to bother the cop and then he says “all right then give me the fine, I will give your DL back and I will pay it to the post office” and continues the cop saying “but I will need a another fifty bucks for transport”

Innocent Paul doesn’t want to leave the DL with this cop at the Galle Police station and come back on another day to get it released and importantly wants to meet his deadline of being in Matara on time agrees to give the cop 550 bucks, but only have a five hundred rupee note and a hundred rupee note with him asks the cop whether he has 50 rupees change. The cop says “ask whether the local in your van has fifty bucks” and finally Paul gives the 550 bucks to the cop.

The cop very easily separate the ticket from its book, keeps the 550 bucks on the ticket fold it to two puts it in the box on the police bike and gives the DL back to Paul. Paul very unhappily gets back to the van and starts driving back. When he started again he sees from his side mirror that the same cop stops another lorry and says “so the same drama will continue” The local mission in the van (obviously pissed off) says “yes, those dramas will never end on this same Galle road” and then replies Paul “that 550 bucks was kept to pay my monthly mobile bill”

So next time: observe whether the speeding ticket has a sequential serial number on it and if not it is not an original speeding ticket and if so you may have to use your brains to teach these cops a lesson. I am not going to tell you what to do, but it’s totally up to you to decide whether you want to continue the trend by doing the same or to break the trend by taking one more step further.

Was it because Paul was a Tamil citizen; because there was a local mission from a NGO in the van; because whether there were foreigners in the van, that the cop made use of the opportunity is yet confusing to me.

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