Rude Mumbai auto driver refuses 70-yr-old, Rakesh Maria takes action

Jul 31, 2014, 06:57 IST | Shirish Vaktania

A relative of elderly woman whose fare was refused, wrote about the incident with auto’s registration number on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook; the driver was nabbed in two days

Every once in a while, the Mumbai police does someth-ing that makes you proud and, in this instance, the commissioner himself led from the front. Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria ordered that a rickshaw driver be booked for refusing a 70-year-old woman’s fare and talking to her niece in rude and abusive language.

The auto driver wanted Dhanlaxmi Khona, who cannot walk without support, to walk to the auto rather than travelling a short distance to pick her up
The auto driver wanted Dhanlaxmi Khona, who cannot walk without support, to walk to the auto rather than travelling a short distance to pick her up

One of the victim’s relatives shared the incident and the auto’s registration number with all her acquaintances on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. When Maria heard of the incident, he ordered that the rickshaw driver be charged and sent a text message to the family, informing them about it.

The tweet posted by one of her relatives
The tweet posted by one of her relatives

Dhanlaxmi Khona (70), a resident of Kalyan, was attending a remembrance ceremony with her niece Jyoti Khona (33) in Ghatkopar (East) on Sunday. When they wanted to head home via Ghatkopar station around 10.30 am, however, no auto driver was ready to take their fare. Jyoti asked her aunt to wait for her at the entrance of the hall while she hailed an auto for the station.

Narrating her ordeal, Jyoti said, “I was with my aunt and we were waiting for around half an hour for an auto. One auto driver stopped, but when I asked him to take his vehicle to the entrance of the hall, he flatly refused. He, in fact, asked me to get my aunt to the gate. I told him that she could not walk without support and that she uses a walking stick, but he remained adamant. ‘Jaana hai to unko idhar leke aao,’ he
told me.”

“Fed up, I told him that I would call the police if he refused, but he was very sure that the cops would not respond to such a complaint. ‘Police wale mera kuch ukhaad nahi sakte (They can’t even touch me for this),’ he said. Left with no option, I dialled 100 for the police control room and gave them the auto’s registration number,” she added.

Going social
Unsure whether the policemen at the control room would act, Jyoti decided to take the help of social media. She told her sister about the incident, who wrote about it on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp around 11.44 am on Sunday. The posts were brought to Maria’s notice by one of his juniors and he asked the junior officer to book the auto driver. He also texted (see box) the family about this around 4 pm on Tuesday.

The driver has been charged and asked to appear before the court on August 14. “I am very grateful to the commissioner for his spontaneous action, which was taken without troubling me or my granny. Even our presence at the police station was not required,” Jyoti said.

When contacted, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) B K Upadhayay said, “We received a complaint about the auto driver refusing to ferry an old woman and we got his auto number also. We conducted an inquiry, charged the auto driver and seized his licence and permit. Auto drivers cannot refuse a passenger. We charged the auto driver under Sections 22(D) and 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act.”

Maria Speak
When mid-day contacted CP Rakesh Maria, he said, “I asked the traffic police to look for this auto driver. I have also asked the local police to charge him, since he misbehaved with the female passengers. Meetings have been organised between traffic cops and the taxi and auto unions to deal with issues pertaining to the refusal of fares and misbehaviour of auto and taxi drivers. Very soon, we will come up with special drives against such drivers.”

Maria’s text

Respected Sir,
As directed the driver of the auto with registration number MH 03 BN 9651, Shri Rudra Pratap Basanta Dixit, resident of Iqbal chawl, Gamdevi Road, was traced and charged under Section 22(D)/Motor Vehicles Act. The motor driving licence, impounded by Vikroli Traffic Division, is being submitted before the court for prosecution.

Thanks and regards,
Rakesh Maria

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