KOZHIKODE: After unleashing terror on online taxi services in the city, traditional taxi drivers have started targeting She Taxi services which were introduced by the State Government for the welfare and safety of women.
A She Taxi driver became a victim of the hooliganism of the local taxi drivers when she went to drop a woman passenger at Kozhikode railway station on Tuesday. The police have arrested a taxi driver identified as Sunil Kumar, 51, in connection with the incident.
Still struggling to come out of the shock, She Taxi driver Jeeja K told Express that she never expected such a horrifying behaviour from a fellow taxi driver who abused her for entering the railway station premises to drop the passenger. The accused allegedly harassed her while she was talking to a person.
According to Jeeja, she had reached the station on Tuesday morning to drop a passenger. “While I was at the station, a lady approached me enquiring about the taxi fare. Suddenly, one of the taxi drivers at the spot came running and asked why I was picking customers from the railway station. He forcefully took away the car key and started harassing me. The incident caused much mental pain and agony,” she said. “We have been facing similar situations,” she added.
Town Sub Inspector E K Shiju said: “It is learnt that She Taxis do not have permit to pick passengers from the railway station. The licence given in this regard was cancelled a few days ago, but the She Taxi drivers were not informed about it. Whatever the case, one has no permission to take the law into one’s own hands. The taxi drivers could have noted the taxi number and informed the Traffic Police.”
A case was registered against the taxi driver under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 392 (punishment for robbery), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code.
The online cab operators have been facing resistance from the local taxi drivers ever since their launch in the city. A woman lawyer had complained to the State Women’s Commission (SWC) that a group of people had hijacked the online taxi that she had hired. The incident took place on October 25 when she hired a Mango cab to take her ailing son to hospital. When she called the taxi driver to pick them up after consultation, another person snatched the phone from the driver.
The person, a representative of a taxi drivers’ union, allegedly asked her to hire another taxi, as the one she had hired was illegal. Since no one representing the taxi drivers’ union attended the Commission sitting, the complaint has been posted for a full sitting. State Women’s Commission member Adv Noorbina Rasheed, who chaired the sitting, said: “It is up to a customer to decide which taxi service should be hired. She Taxi is a much promising project of the State Government intending safe, reliable, and full-fledged women-oriented traveller cab system. Such instances of attack against new taxi services are unfortunate. The issue will be taken up with the government.”
Protesting against the arrest of Sunil Kumar, a section of taxi drivers in the city went on a strike on Thursday. “She Taxis do not have the permit to pick passengers from the railway station and this was questioned. Moreover, online taxis are cutting into the earnings of autorickshaw and taxi drivers who have no other means of livelihood,’’ said Taxi Owners Association secretary Shameer K V.