(Left) INTTUC leader Azizul gives a rose to a bike rider after giving him a helmet in Cooch Behar;
the poster of Lage Raho Munnabhai in which the character played by Sanjay Dutt tries
to change hearts by Gandhigiri. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

Main Uddin Chisti, TT, Cooch Behar, July 11: Some helmet-less two-wheeler riders were in for a surprise in Cooch Behar this morning. They were gifted helmets and a red rose bud by Azizul “Munnabhai” Haq.

To be correct, Munnabhai is not Trinamul labour wing leader Azizul’s middle name, but he seemed to have taken a Gandhigiri leaf out of Lage Raho Munnabhai to create awareness on safe riding.
A group of Trinamul workers, led by Azizul, today waited in the Dauaguri area near the town, stopped helmetless bikers and presented them with the protective headgear and the rose bud. The INTTUC leader said accidents, often fatal, were frequent along NH31. “That is why we have decided to carry out this awareness drive. We have distributed 520 new helmets to bikers who were not wearing any. We have also presented them a rose. The drive costs around Rs 30,000. I hope that it will create some awareness among people who do not wear helmets,” said Azizul, who had put in his own money and collected some from his associates.
“Keep your safety in your hands”, “wear helmets when riding bikes”, were some of the slogans on banners that the youths displayed at Dauaguri Bazar along NH31, where a tent had been pitched to store the helmets.
Haq asked one of the bikers: “Brother, is your skull so hard that you do not require a helmet? Or is it that you do not have the money to buy one? Whatever maybe the reason, do not do this. We are giving you a brand new helmet, make good use of it and make it a habit.”
Jagadish Debnath, a resident of Pasarirhat, was found riding not only helmet-less, but with two riding pillion on his bike – his mother and a cousin brother. They were riding from Pasarirhat to Tufanganj, a distance of 40km.
“I have been hauled up by the police twice for not wearing a helmet. I paid up Rs 200 as fine on both the occasions without thinking. But today, I am really feeling ashamed. This flower and free helmet is embarrassing. I will remember to wear a helmet from now on,” Jagadish said.
An ex-serviceman who did not want to be named owned up that he had a helmet at home but did not use it. “I have a helmet at home but I don’t wear it. We should not ride bikes without wearing the headgear ,” he said after being stopped by Azizul’s followers.
Another person seeking anonymity, who is an employee of a courier company, welcomed the drive. “The drive carried out by the Trinamul workers is good. I have got a new helmet for free and I will use it whenever I ride my bike,” he said.