Shame: Taxi drivers harass, chase woman passenger at Mangaluru airport
Mangaluru, Jun 15: In a shocking, disgusting incident that brings to light not only the issue of women’s safety but also the high-handedness of taxi drivers at Mangaluru airport and the apathy of the airport security, a woman was allegedly harassed, threatened and abused by a bunch of taxi drivers, just because her family had booked an Ola cab for her instead of hiring one of them.
As per a complaint filed in the women’s police station on Sunday June 14, a copy of which is with daijiworld, Sapna (name changed to protect privacy), an IT professional, had been to Bengaluru on work on June 10. On June 12, she hurried back to Mangaluru on board a Jet Airways flight, after receiving news of her father-in-law’s critical condition and needing to see him in his last moments. She landed in Mangaluru at 4 pm the same day.
Her family members had booked an Ola cab online so that she could come home from the airport immediately without the hassle of finding taxis. However, when she walked out from the airport and headed towards the waiting Ola cab, she saw a group of taxi drivers (associated with the airport) manhandling the Ola cab driver, identified as Mohammed (as per the complaint). The taxi drivers had snatched away the key of the cab, and Mohammed was begging them to return it, says Sapna.
“This group of drivers finally forced the Ola cab driver to run away and warned him not to pick me up anywhere, (not) even outside the airport premises. No officers of the airport came to our rescue,” says Sapna.
To her horror, Sapna herself was allegedly abused, chased and threatened by the taxi drivers and stopped from getting into the Ola taxi.
In the midst of this harassment, she reported her ordeal over mobile phone to her family, who were already battling an emotional struggle back home. “I contacted my husband immediately over the mobile and he managed to contact the (Ola) driver again and he convinced him to wait outside the collection gate of the airport premises. When I started walking, the taxi drivers started chasing me, and looking at this, the cab driver ran away,” Sapna said.
Speaking to daijiworld, Sapna’s husband said, “The taxi driver who was beaten struggled for his life, and in his frantic effort of pleading and fighting, took flight with his taxi out of the airport, leaving her stranded with the swearing drivers of the airport taxis.”
The nightmare did not end there. Sapna further states in the complaint, “I had no other option but to run from a group of gunda drivers who started chasing me further for almost two kilometers. They were chasing me with abusive, life-threatening language, loose talk, attempted molestation and outraged (my) modesty with criminal force.
“They also threatened that they would kill me if I use Ola cab again while coming out of Mangaluru airport. They also said that they had full support from Mangalore Airport authorities and Bajpe police station to manhandle Ola cab drivers and Ola passengers. When I mentioned that I would file a police complaint and also complain with Mangalore Airport authorities, they insulted me saying the local police and the airport authorities are in their pockets and they are doing this with their consent,” she said.
“Though this incident took place in front of the airport security, no officers came to her aid nor did anyone dare to put an end to this atrocity,” her husband said.
Finally, when she reached Kavoor-Bajpe road, a kind-hearted rickshaw driver came to her rescue and she managed to get out of her helpless plight and reach her family who live inside the city limits.
Her nightmare turned into deep sorrow and grief when Sapna learnt that her father-in-law had passed away just minutes before she reached home. “Due to the troubles, inconvenience, harassment and lack of security at the airport for women passengers, I went through a lot of psychological trauma and the last opportunity to see my father-in-law alive was lost forever,” she said.
She also said that though she wanted to file the complaint immediately, she could not as her father-in-law’s funeral was held on Saturday June 13. An FIR has been lodged in women’s police station based on Sapna’s statement. She, in her complaint, also pleaded to conduct an inquiry against the director of Airport Authority, Mangaluru for lapse of duties and responsibilities.
Says her husband, “This is one of the many incidents I have heard of first-hand experiences from other citizens of Mangaluru who have faced similar situations at other public transport facilities like railway stations too. Citizens of metropolitan cities and semi-urban cities have the freedom of choice to select the mode of transport convenient to them.
“Mangaluru has witnessed this transition lately with taxi systems, but this is posing serious problems for its citizens being harassed and monopolized by force to pay exorbitantly high fares to avail airport taxi drop services. Charges range between Rs 600 – Rs 700 for city drop from the airport taxis while local taxi services like Mangi, Ola, City Cab, Taxi-for-Sure offer about Rs 250 – Rs 300 with premium AC service. These benefits to citizens are seen as a threat by the public transport taxis vested interests who are hand-in-glove with the authorities. This again brings to light the security threat to women and other passengers who travel late evenings,” he felt.
Ironically, only days ago, Mangaluru airport was rated second best in the country in terms of customer satisfaction, in a survey of airports with less than 1.5 million passengers annually.