On Friday, 15 May, 22-year-old risk analyst Mayank Agarwal was returning from his office in Gurgaon. Agarwal, who works with the multinational firm KPMG, reached Malviya Nagar Metro Station situated on Yellow Line of Delhi Metro at around 9:30pm and exited from Gate No. 2.
As usual, no auto driver was willing to take Agarwal to his house alone. "Auto drivers near Malviya Nagar Metro Station usually take groups of four or five people and drop them to either one of three locations -- Select City Walk, Sheikh Sarai or Tikona Park. They charge 20 bucks per person," says Agarwal.
This method enables auto drivers to make more money. The fare mandated by the government starts at Rs 25 and considering the short distance between the metro station and residential colonies in Malviya Nagar, an auto driver would hardly make Rs 40 by ferrying a single person. Hence, auto drivers in the area have made it a point to not use the electronic fare meter and instead carry no less than four persons in one auto.
Tired of this corrupt practice, and after multiple auto drivers refused to drive him home, Agarwal brought the matter to the notice of the traffic cops present.
"The traffic cops told the auto driver to go ahead and drop me home but his orders fell on deaf ears," says Agarwal.
A frustrated Agarwal then called the auto-helpline number 011-42400400 and lodged a complaint against the driver with a DL1RL 6048 license plate.
Agarwal says, "I asked the traffic cops to fine the auto driver but they told me that taking such an action was beyond their jurisdiction as only a Zonal Officer could do so."
As the argument intensified, Agarwal dialled the police for help but says that the PCR van took at least 25 minutes to arrive. Meanwhile, after Agarwal made the phone call to the police, nearly 15 auto drivers got together and started agitating. They threatened Agarwal with grave consequences. Soon a lady mysteriously appeared at the metro station.
"The woman slapped me and not only accused me of eve teasing but also of trying to snatch away her gold chain and bangles. The auto drivers joined in and beat me up viciously," says Agarwal.
The traffic cops finally realised the necessity to take action and bring the situation under control. The PCR van had arrived and they rushed Agarwal to AIIMS Trauma Centre where he was treated for the injuries he sustained. While blood poured out of Agarwal's mouth, he also sustained injuries in his neck and back.
"Following initial treatment, the cops told me that they were going and asked me to lodge an FIR next morning," says Agarwal.
The next morning Agarwal filed an FIR at Malviya Nagar Police Station and narrated the entire incident to Station Officer Vijay Singh Chandel.
"I came to know that the lady who accused me of harassment was running a large number of autos in the area. She had even tried to file a complaint against me at the police station. But since the traffic cops were present when the incident occurred, they refused to entertain her bogus complaint. I was told that she had done similar things in the past."
Agarwal also met the local Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti and informed him about the ongoing racket. Bharti assured Agarwal of swift action and clamping down on the corrupt practises of auto drivers.
So far two arrests have been made in the case but Agarwal is far from satisfied. "I raised my voice against an illegal activity. Five persons cannot be made to share one auto. Had the traffic cops acted sternly in the first place, I wouldn't have been subjected to this kind of violence while I was in their presence," says Agarwal.