The victim Bansi Chauhan, who is originally from Abu Road in Rajashtan, moved to the city in 1984 and has been living on the pavement at Tulsi Pipe road ever since. At 1.30 am, an inebriated cab driver decided to stop near the pavement where Chauhan lives with 200-odd other people and attempted to abduct an eight-year-old girl. When a few men noticed the driver trying to kidnap her, they ran to her aid and caught hold of the driver following which a scuffle broke out. However, the driver managed to get away from the angry men and got into his cab to flee the scene.
“The people living there gathered around the spot to ensure that the child was fine. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the same cab driver came charging at us and rammed into some of us and then sped away,” said Pooja Parmar (17), who was injured in the hit-and-run.
According to more than five eyewitnesses, the taxi driver rammed into Bansi so ruthlessly that his body flew over the heads of a few of the locals who had gathered on the spot and crashed on the road. “Initially we were stunned but within seconds some men picked up his body and tried to stop a few taxi drivers who refused to ply. Eventually, a tempo driver drove Chauhan and the other injured to Bhabha hospital,” said Agar, another eyewitness.
Dr Vijaya Bhatt, medical superintendent, Bhabha Hospital said, “We have admitted Bansi Chauhan in the ICU and done a CT scan. We suspect internal head injuries and are awaiting the reports. The other four had bruises and were discharged immediately.”
The police have registered a case of attempt to murder against the taxi driver. “This isn’t the first time such an incident is taking place. We work with over 10 homeless communities and such cases are rampant. Most of the times the cases are not even registered because the homeless communities are invisible. A taxi driver being brought to justice is not a sufficient and acceptable answer to the problems of over 2 lakh homeless who live on the streets of Mumbai,” says Abhishek Bharadwaj, 34, founder president of Alternative Realities that has been working with the homeless communities in Mumbai since 2004.