Mangaluru: Our City of Mangaluru is always looked upon highly, as the education hub of the State. A City that has always boasted of good family traditions, a peaceful recluse and place to settle down for people of all ages, cultures despite the technological advancement and employment opportunities in different sectors. But is this for a fact? A shocking incident of a live witness in Mangaluru, on Sunday, 14 June, is just one of the many seeming isolated ,but true grievances and plight of inhabitants and visitors in our city today.
Sumitha (her name changed to protect privacy) was one such passenger, an IT professional, who was hurrying back to Mangaluru from Bengaluru on board Jet Airways (9W815) flight, after receiving news of her father-in- laws critical health condition and needing to see him in his last moments. Her family members had booked for her an OLA cab online so as to receive her immediately and get her home as soon as possible.
But all her sentiments and concerns for family was thrown hay wire and it turned into a nightmare when she walked out of the airport. As she approached her Taxi, she witnessed a shocking incident of her OLA Taxi driver being manhandled badly by a group of drivers associated with the airport. Car keys of the driver were snatched. To her horror ,she witnessed, herself being threatened and stopped from boarding the Ola Taxi, The taxi driver struggled for his life , being beaten and in his frantic effort of pleading and fight, managed to take flight with the taxi car out of the airport leaving the lady stranded with the on looking and swearing drivers of the airport taxis.
Though this incident took place in front of the airport security, no officers came to the aid of the lady nor did anyone dare to put an end to this atrocity. In the midst of all this violence, the lady reported this over her mobile phone to her family ,who were battling the emotional struggle back home. Her husband managed to contact the Ola taxi driver and convinced him pleadingly to wait at least outside the airport gate premises and informed her to find her way out.
Her walk out ,turned out to be more of a nightmare as she found herself being followed and as she picked up pace, began a chase with drivers behind her using abusive and life threatening language, loose talk , attempted molestation and violence if she would ever use a OLA cab in future, while coming into and out of Mangalore airport. They also boasted of the support they had from Mangalore airport authorities and Bajpe Police Station in their favour.
Watching the oncoming “Gunda” drivers chasing the lady in distress, the Ola taxi driver drove off leaving the lady alone outside the airport premises. A kind on looking rickshaw driver came to her rescue and she finally managed to get out of her helpless plight and reach her family living inside city Limits. Her travel scary incident turned into deep sorrow , grief and regret to see her father in law who had passed away minutes before, she could reach her bereaving family.
This is truly one of the many incidents I have heard from first hand experiences and from other citizens of Mangalore facing similar situations at other public transport facilities like railway stations too. Citizens of metropolitan cities and sub 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 currently exorbitantly high fares to avail airport taxi drop services. Charges range between Rs.600-700 for city drop from the airport taxis while the Local taxi services like Mangi , OLA, city cab, taxi-for-sure offer about Rs 250-300 with premium AC service. These benefits to citizens are seen as a treat by the Public transport taxis with vested interests who are hand in glove with the authorities.
This again brings out into light, the security treat to women and other passengers who travel late evenings.”Sumitha” has filed a police complaint in Pandeshwar women’s police station and FIR has been lodged (FIR NO 0020/2015). She , in her complaint, has also pleaded to conduct an inquiry against the Director, Airport Authority, Mangalore who is a public servant for the lapse of duties and responsibilities.