The nuisance of Autorickshaw wallahs in Bangalore is increasing by the tons. Women are at constant risk with goons rickshawwallah threatening to assault them and cause them harm! Not just women, but also men.
These days it is impossible to take an auto rickshaw and feel safe. I personally feel much more safer and secure traveling by the city bus.
Bangalore has turned into a cosmopolitan city, and this has benefitted the auto drivers more than anyone, coz they charge humongous amounts for short distances. Some times they just refuse to come. I think, the so-called IT community at large is to be blamed for it. They concede and pay whatever the rickshaw-wallahs ask for.
But, now its not just about money. Its about respect and safety!
I heard of two incidents in the past few days about abuse and threat.
It is 5 PM on sunday evening. Sadhna takes an auto from Garuda mall to her house. After she gets down, the autowallah asks her for 50 Rs (which is 20 rs more than the actual auto fare). She refuses to pay. Gives him 30 Rs and starts to walk out. At this, the autowallah gets out from the auto (he is a pretty heavy set and a rowdy looking guy) and starts pulling her shopping bags. She asks him to immediately stop.
Autowallah: (in a threatening tone) “Let me see how you walk away from this place”
Sadhna: “Ok. I will not walk. You also stand here and I will also stand here”
(They stand for two minutes in silence with him glaring at her)
Sadhna: “Police station is nearby. Let us go there and resolve this matter”
Autowallah: “I am not going anywhere. You pay me the money and then if you want, you can report to the police. I dont care”
Sadhna: “I am not paying you a single buck extra. Come with me to the police station”
She leaves him there and starts walking towards the police station. He takes the auto, almost rams into her, trying to hit her. She escapes and he growls back “Give me my money… And then do what you want to do”. She says “I am going to the police station”. The autowallah glares at her and says “I know where you stay. If I dont attack your house in the next two days, I will shave away my moustache”
She goes inside the police station, lodges a report of “threat to assault” and a hawaldaar walks her back to her house. But can she sleep peacefully now? Specially since she stays alone?
A similar case happened a few days ago:
It was 930 AM. Mousumi was trying to take an auto to reach her office. She saw an auto around which at least 6-7 people were standing and smoking. The auto was apparently empty. She asked the driver if he would go to the office place. He quoted a price of 50 rs for a distance of 1 km. She was stunned and asked him “50 RUPEES?” He started mimicking her and ridiculing her in front of everyone… started mouthing some obscenities in Kannada. She started to note down his auto-rickshaw number. Suddenly, she sees the entire mob of 6-7 people alert and ready to pounce on her. The driver started abusing her. He started showing obscene signs with hands. The girl looked on for a moment. She had half a mind to complain. But, then she lived in the same colony and frequented the same streets. She knew even if the police does help her one day, she would not be left to save herself for all the other days. She decided to just let it go and walked away.
Will Sadhna ever feel safe now? Even in her own house? Or would she have to bear the brunt of having gone on the wrong side of a local goon? Was Mousumi’s decision correct? Is it sometimes more practical to not react?
For those who have suffered before, here are some helpline numbers for Bangalore to report such cases of abuse by rickshaw wallahs: 22253500, 22260554, 22207750