Mumbai: How viral clip brought down Bandra-BKC-Kurla auto rickshaw mafia

Updated: Feb 09, 2019, 12:45 IST | Faizan Khan

As top cop orders strict action against errant rickshaw drivers who fleece commuters in Mumbai's Bandra-BKC-Kurla belt, regulars share their daily ordeals and welcome move

Mumbai: How viral clip brought down Bandra-BKC-Kurla auto rickshaw mafia
Auto drivers caught refusing fare at Kurla station yesterday evening...

In a happy development for harangued commuters at BKC, Kurla station and LTT, Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal has ordered a massive crackdown on the auto driver menace following a viral video of a driver assaulting a passenger at BKC last week. The drive that started on Sunday saw action taken against more than 110 errant drivers under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Act and has netted the traffic police R1 lakh in fines.

Some of them have even had their permits suspended. Jaiswal's strict instructions to the traffic police are to take action against auto and taxi drivers outside railways stations and heavy footfall areas for refusing fare, charging extra and not following lane discipline. He has also instructed senior officials of the traffic police to continue the drive every day and make sure citizens are not harassed during peak hours.

were slapped with hefty fines by the traffic police. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
were slapped with hefty fines by the traffic police. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Auto driver loses licence
The auto driver who triggered the drive has been identified as Vinod Kumar Rai. In the video he was seen thrashing a youngster for refusing to pay Rs 40 instead of the usual Rs 30 for a share-auto ride from Kurla to BKC. The Andheri RTO, meanwhile, managed to track down Rai, a resident of Dnyaneshwar Nagar, Bandra. The auto is registered in the name of one Kamal Bahadur Shaikh, a resident of Bharat Nagar, Bandra East. The police have also served notice to Shaikh, informing him that his permit had been suspended. The RTO has also suspended Rai's driving licence.

An auto-rickshaw driver seems shocked by the fine he has been slapped with at Kurla West
An auto-rickshaw driver seems shocked by the fine he has been slapped with at Kurla West 

Jaiswal told mid-day, "We take cognisance of each and every complaint by citizens on Twitter and other available platforms. I have instructed the traffic police to carry out a special drive at Kurla and Bandra East to fix the traffic menace and take action against auto drivers harassing citizens. We have arrested the auto driver who had assaulted the passenger in the viral video even though the passenger has not turned up to lodge a complaint."

A cop locks the wheel of an auto after the driver refuses fare at Kurla West.
A cop locks the wheel of an auto after the driver refuses fare at Kurla West.

Fed-up commuters
Commuters who travel regularly from BKC to Kurla or Bandra and vice-versa are fed up of auto drivers regularly fleecing them but have no option considering the dearth of public transport in the area. Despite several complaints on numerous occasions, auto drivers who are mostly residents of Bandra and Kurla, continue to bully passengers and overcharge them.

mid-day decided to take an auto from Kurla West to BKC for firsthand experience of the harassment. If was lunch time and the cops had gone for a break. True to form, the auto drivers refused to ferry this reporter outright. We were refused five times and finally the sixth auto driver agreed to ferry us.

A traffic cop films the licence plate number of an errant auto driver at Kurla railway station
A traffic cop films the licence plate number of an errant auto driver at Kurla railway station

ACP East Region Vinayak Vast told mid-day, "Action has been taken against the auto drivers under the Maharashtra Police Vehicle Act for refusing fare, not following lane discipline, driving without licence and badge. We will continue this drive till the time the problem is fixed in the area."

Senior PI Kurla Traffic Division Dilip Gujar said, "In just two days, action has been taken against more than 110 auto drivers. We have been constantly monitoring the situation at Kurla West, East and at LTT."

Subodh Jaiswal, Mumbai Police Commissioner
Subodh Jaiswal, Mumbai Police Commissioner

Minister says
Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said, "I have heard about the viral video and action has been taken against the driver and owner of the autorickshaw as well, We are not going to tolerate such arrogant behaviour with passengers. I am planning to depute RTO officers at railways stations during peak hours from 5pm to 7pm and in the morning as well. We have already asked passengers to take photographs of auto and taxi drivers before boarding and in case of refusal we will get documentary evidence to take action against them.

Riyaz Ahmad Khan

'We face harassment every single day'
Riyaz Ahmad Khan
'I have been working here for more than seven years. We face this harassment from auto drivers every single day. We have got used to it. Today, I got an auto in a single attempt because you people were standing here with a camera. On other days it is a very long time before
I get one'

Devilal Mhatre

Devilal Mhatre
'I came to meet a friend in the afternoon and was going back home. I have been waiting for an auto at this Diamond Market signal for the past 15 minutes as all auto drivers refused to go to Kurla station'

'Drivers behave like hooligans'
Priti Dubey, 33
Corporate manager, BKC
"I take an auto every day from BKC Trade Centre to Chembur where I live. The auto drivers behave like hooligans all the time, refusing fare and not allowing other auto drivers to take passengers who have come here from other areas telling them, 'Yeh hamara area hai'. If there are cops around, we have no problem finding an auto. We can't even argue with these people as they use filthy, abusive language."

Prashant Bhosale, 30
Photographer
'I don't remember a single day that I have not had an argument with an auto driver to ferry me from BKC to Bandra station. First they refuse or else you have to pay them what they demand. The only other option is to walk to the station'

Swati Sharma, 26
Media analyst, BKC
'Most auto drivers refuse fare from BKC to Kurla citing traffic jams during evening peak hours, The problem has worsened owing to the Metro work. There is not place to even walk here even if you want to. You have stand and wait for an auto. It is like winning a war if one manages to get an auto'

Also Read: Mumbai: Auto rickshaw driver returns Rs 66,000 to man saving for wife's heart disease treatment

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