Blow hard for Pal

A day in the life of Rishi pal

Zonal officer, Delhi Traffic Police

Age: 52

Humour, gumption and grit seethis breathalyser cop through long nights

Everyday he listens to desperate stories, abject apologies and long arguments with a straight face, going about his job with nonchalance and mechanical precision. After more than 32 years of policing on the road, Rishi Pal, a zonal officer of the Delhi Traffic Police at Kamla Market, says he is now "used to the drama".

Pal stands next to his Pulsar with his breathalyser kit. It looks rather complex but, in fact, is brutally simple. "The moment the meter jumps above 30 mg (the permissible limit of alcohol in blood), I issue a challan instantly—no matter what the person has to say in defence," Pal says.

It is 9 p.m. on a cold January night. But the dipping temperature and the gathering fog can't hamper Pal. He stops a car at the barricade, brings his head close to the driver's, and says, "Aaj bahut thand hai bhai, kahan ja rahe ho? Kahan se aa rahe ho? Pee rakhi hai? (It is very cold. Where are you going? Are you drunk?)". The driver in the car shakes his head stiffly. "Moonh se bolo bhai. Sunayee nahi diya. (Open your mouth and answer. I did not get you)," Pal insists. "I am going back home. I have to reach Karol Bagh. And I am not drunk," says the driver. Pal smiles and moves aside to let him off. "Nahi pee daru. Jao ghar aur garam khana khao. (You are not drunk. Go home and have a hot meal)." The driver smiles and thanks him before speeding off.

Pal now considers himself an expert in booking drunk drivers. He does not use breathalyser on every driver. Just a glance and he comes to know whether to use it or not. "I go close to the driver and ask him random questions. After two sentences I know whether the driver is drunk or not. After years of experience, I can smell alcohol from a kilometre," Pal says, his eyes glued to the stretch.

... contd.

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