Kolkata: Auto menace continues to drive many commuters, in the streets of Kolkata, crazy. Be it the stance of harassing passengers, hiking fares illogically or by carrying more than the required number of passengers. It’s the word-of-mouth that the auto menace must come to an end. But how many vouch for further legal actions against them? None, as a traffic police officer says that auto commuters are hesitant to take further legal actions to end this ‘auto-cracy’.
We often come across news about this auto menace in the city. Reports point towards regular harassment of the passengers in the form of paying more than the usual fare, carrying 6 passengers at late night which are more than the usual number. They even decide the auto routes on their own and ferry across streets not allowed to move by. The auto drivers have even got involved in tussles with passengers. They have even beaten them up.
The police, however, seems to be a puppet amidst such injustice, as they have not yet been successful in wiping out this menace. It must not be forgotten that the police has failed invariably because there is the presence of auto unions, which protect them, by every means. These unions have a tie with top leaders of the ruling party, thus providing a political leverage for them.
At least 6 passengers were noticed in autos, for instance in the Ajaynagar to Jadavpur 8B route. On asking the drivers over what would happen if a policeman sees this, one of them said publicly that the police could do nothing. Some passengers even complained that the autos ask for more fares at night. A police officer said that the passengers complain on this issue regularly, but are unwilling to take it to a higher level. As a result, the auto drivers evade the law and hence punishment, too. The unions protecting them, and having a political background belonging to the ruling party, makes it impossible to take proper actions.
A similar sight is noticed at the Gariahat to Bagha Jatin route also. Commuters complained that they are forced to pay the excessive and arbitrary fare even if they protested. According to a traffic police officer of this route, the policemen have to work as per orders. They have pressure from top echelons which makes them unable to take any action against those loompens in several occasions.
Reporting By Monishankar Choudhury
Written & Edited By Saheli Dey