Mumbai cops crackdown on rogue auto drivers at Kurla terminus; over 100 fined
Following this paper's expose on how rogue rickshaw drivers harass unsuspecting passengers in the wee hours, Mumbai police extend action to busy station; 114 fined yesterday
Barely a couple of hours after mid-day's report hit the stands, detailing how autorickshaw drivers badgered and fleeced commuters at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), the traffic police swung into action yesterday. Cops conducted a surprise check at the station starting, around 5.30 am, catching and fining over 100 autorickshaw drivers by the end of the day for various violations, including driving without licence or uniform.
The traffic police caught several auto drivers who were out of their khaki uniform, for which the offenders offered excuses as colourful as their civil clothes. One autowallah tried to pull the wool over the cops' eyes by quickly wrapping a shawl around himself, but was caught and issued an e-challan after the police asked him to take it off.
Errant drivers tried different tricks to avoid penalty for not wearing the uniform; this man hid under a shawl
The traffic department also caught taxi drivers who flouted the rules. One taximan caught driving without uniform protested that there were others who went unpunished despite breaking more serious laws. "Why only me? There are auto and taxi drivers who drink and consume drugs inside the vehicles that are parked here. Charge them too, " he complained to the officers. The cops and fined him anyway, and asked him to report such activities to the 100 helpline in the future.
A cop takes down the registration number of the auto before issuing an e-challan to the driver for not wearing a uniform
'Was only following rules'
Yet another auto driver caught without his uniform claimed he was being punished for trying to follow the rules. He insisted that he had merely come to the station to drop his relative, but was hailed by a customer on his way out. He told the police that he had obliged, since it was against the rules to refuse a passenger.
Despite the many excuses and tricks, the traffic police managed to fine as many as 114 drivers for operating without uniform, licence or badge, illegal parking and various other offences.
Cops also fined drivers who had parked their vehicles haphazardly. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
Senior Inspector Balkrishna Mane of the Chembur traffic division said, "We have arranged a prepaid stand from where taxis and autos will ply on meter basis. We have printed some posters with our officials' contact details. If anyone needs any help, they can contact us on those numbers. If any commuter is harassed by auto or taxi men, they can approach us for immediate action." He added, "We have also deployed our officers there around the clock; if anybody does not get a cab or auto, they can approach our personnel for help."
This latest drive at LTT came just hours after mid-day's report on how auto and taxi drivers prowled the station platforms out of uniform, waiting to fleece passengers as soon as they alighted from trains. The racket was exposed by members of the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS) on Thursday, when they posed as regular commuters at LTT and later narrated how they were accosted by auto and taxi men.
'As part of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, we had earlier visited LTT and found no police personnel or ticket-checkers at the platforms, while auto and taxi drivers were present out of uniform, approaching passengers. I am very happy to hear that cops are catching such offenders. This will improve safety, especially for women
'As a woman, I feel scared when someone approaches me claiming to be an auto or taxi driver, but I can see they are not in uniform. The authorities should prohibit auto-taxi drivers from entering the
'Passengers are tired when they alight from trains, and their aim is to reach home as soon as possible. These drivers take advantage of this and demand exorbitant fares'
'The authorities should issue a strict warning that if the drivers do not wait in line for passengers at the assigned stand, they will not be allowed to enter the station premises again'
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