Millennium Post

The nuisance of autowallahs

It is too familiar a story. The autos refuse to go. Passengers haggle and finish the day by paying many times more than what is due. Otherwise they remain stranded, often risking their safety. Since autos were introduced in Delhi as a metered vehicle, this has the most repeated leitmotif. Those who regularly avail or are rather forced to avail the auto service in Delhi go through this as a ritual almost every time they are looking for an auto. Gentle, honest and professional auto drivers are few and far between.

The evenings are especially difficult since in a city like Delhi, where safety is a premium, the autos make the most of it. And expecting the police to take action at the call of an inconvenienced passenger is a dream that most Delhiites never dare to dream. Complaints are routinely made and yet autos violate laws and norms with consummate ease and impunity.  This is a norm and most of us, who know and have learnt to live with it, have made a comfortable compromise with it, knowing that things won’t change. Those, like a journalist of a leading media house, who challenged an autowallah and invited a threat of dire consequence, in case she lodged a complaint, are the ones who stand out in their willingness to seek change. But in other circumstances they are advised against doing anything ‘rash’ in case the auto driver actually carries out his ‘vengeance’. Many women live single, without family or a social network in this horrific and unsafe city and they are advised to make peace with their humiliation, lest they face even worse predicament.

The government has always promised action, threatened a driver or two, slapped penal action on a couple of others but the culture of the autowallah never changes. The drivers are only too aware that most people out on the streets do not have the time or the inclination to go into a complaint overdrive with autos. They let it go and seek the next one. And in cases where passengers do want to do something against this practice, the process is so cynically unresponsive, as the report proves, that it turns out to be a joke. In this case, the complaint was registered and the number of the auto was found to be unregistered. Which means, thanks to a process corrupted to the core, autos are illegally plying in the city unregistered. So in rare cases that their crimes could be reported, they cannot be even traced!    This can’t go on but the promises of the government and its inept agencies sound only fake and pointless. Now, Indians have come to believe that change has to come. The point is, how long can we wait to let it come the right way!
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