Autos threaten cops, scribe with their 'contacts'

Auto driver in Bandra threatens cops and MiD DAY team with his political clout; another in Ghatkopar blames the cops for his empty tank asks them to push his vehicle

MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign entered its ninth day yesterday, and the histrionics from of auto drivers caught flouting rules hadn't dried up.

In Ghatkopar, a rickshaw driver had to be chased by the traffic police after he refused fare and sped away. When he was caught, he created a fracas and asked cops and this reporter to push his vehicle as he had run out of gas.

Once caught by our reporter and the police for refusing to ply
a passenger, Haroon Usman Gani got aggressive and
began boasting of his political connections

In Bandra, a rickshaw driver, claiming to belong to a political outfit, clicked pictures of the traffic cops and the reporter, saying he would see to it that they were taken care of by his 'contacts'.

Out of gas
The auto driver in Ghatkopar, Ashok Pal, had refused three commuters outside the station, before he was chased by traffic policeman Bhosle on a bike and nabbed near Haveli bridge.

After he was brought to Ghatkopar police station, he started arguing with the police and denied that he refused any fare. Instead, he claimed to have run out of fuel and even gestured to people that he was out of gas.

"Maine ishara kiya tha, samajhna chaiye logon ko (I signalled to the commuters, they should understand what I was trying to say)," said Pal.

But V D Patil, a bystander who saw Pal signalling, said, "How are people to know that a thumbs down means there is no fuel? Besides, Pal should have halted when the traffic police asked him to. Why did he run away?"
Pal created a ruckus and said, "I have been an auto driver for 20 years and have never been caught.
I had a genuine problem. I am poor and these traffic cops are harassing me. For the next few days, I will have to keep running around. My Diwali will be spoilt."

Ashok Pal was distraught that the cops fined him when he refused
fares, even though he had no fuel in his vehicle

Bhosle said, "Pal ran away instead of telling me his problem. Besides, he asked people where they wanted to go before refusing them, which makes him an offender."

A beat constable, who tried to intervene, said, "Pal was unwilling to accept his fault and started cursing the entire country."

After he was given the receipt, he sat there for half an hour. He did drive away but returned after 10 minutes, and said, "Meri gadi ruk gayi. Tum logo ki galti hai. (My vehicle has stopped, and it's your fault.)"

He then insisted that the traffic police and the reporter should push his vehicle that had stalled on the way.

When refused, he started screaming and threw a tantrum, demanding the phone numbers of the cops and the reporter. He said he would tell his people who would make them "understand".

After the police, fed up of the drama, threatened to put him in jail, Pal went away.

Full of hot air
The auto driver in Bandra, Haroon Usman Gani, refused to ply a woman, and after being fined, denied he had refused to ferry her. He even threatened the police and the passenger with the alleged pull he had in political circles.
He took pictures of the reporter and the policemen, and then apparently called up a political outfit and informed someone about the incident to prove his point. He also tried to manhandle the police.

"I am not at all at fault. The commuter is lying about being refused. I will now make sure that the rickshaw union takes up this issue.
It is wrong of the police to fine us for refusals. I will not tolerate this, and will go to the authorities to complain against this."

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