Scared, he jumped out of the auto after the driver refused to stop; the Japanese still flung Rs 500 to pay for his ride
This city — or country, for that matter — is not the easiest place for foreigners, as a 45-year-old Japanese national learnt on Sunday, when an autorickshaw driver tried to kidnap him and extort dollars. The foreign national — Akira Shigeta — was forced to jump out of the running auto to save his life, but ended up fracturing his right shoulder.
Shigeta boards an auto outside the R-City Mall to return home to Powai. Illustrations/Uday Mohite
Despite his ordeal, he flung Rs 500 at the driver because he didn’t want to be ‘unfair’ — a testament to the emphasis that the Japanese put on manners.
He realises the meter was off and asked the driver about it. When the driver asked him to pay in dollars, they began to argue
An engineer by profession, Shigeta hails from Chiba city in Japan and had arrived in India on April 3 to work at the ToYo Engineering company in Kanjurmarg. According to the police, on Sunday evening, Shigeta had gone to R-City Mall in Ghatkopar.
Around 6 pm, he hired an auto to go back to his residence at Hiranandani, Powai.
The driver demanded $50 and began to drive fast; Shigeta got scared and jumped off, but not before he threw Rs 500 at him
"After some time, Shigeta noticed that the auto’s meter was not working. He asked the driver in English why the meter was not working. The driver responded rudely and an argument ensued between the two," said Senior Inspector Rajendra Kulkarni of Parksite police station.
Shigeta took another auto to Hiranandani Hospital, where he underwent a surgery to fix his shoulder, which had got fractured
Demand for dollars
Kulkarni added that the auto driver knew some English and demanded $15 (about R996). Shigeta questioned why he should have to pay in dollars when he had the Indian currency, and the driver began to demand $50 (R3,320). The driver began to drive fast and ignored Shigeta’s requests to slow down.
Akira Shigeta arrived in India just three weeks ago to begin his job at a Kanjurmarg company
Shigeta feared that the driver would take him to an isolated place and mug him, so he decided to jump off the auto. When the auto reached Kailash Complex road number 17, which is a high steep road, the auto slowed down. Shigeta spotted an opportunity and jumped. But what’s equally interesting is that before he jumped, he made sure to throw a Rs 500-note at the driver so he wouldn’t go empty-handed after ferrying him in the auto.
Shigeta’s right shoulder was badly injured in the jump, so he took another auto to Hiranandani Hospital, where the doctors found he had sustained a fracture.
Shigeta’s boss informed the police about the case and the cops arrived at the hospital to take his statement.
They immediately registered a case against an unidentified auto driver under sections 364A (Kidnapping for ransom) and 384 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code and launched a manhunt for him. Shigeta did not note the licence plate number in his state of panic, but investigators are looking for any CCTV camera from nearby shops.
"Our detection staff is looking into the matter and have got concrete leads in the case; it will be cracked soon," said Kulkarni, adding that Shigeta underwent an operation on Wednesday and is recovering now.