Police have arrested the rogue cabbie and traced 12 taxis whose numbers end with the four digits a woman had provided after being allegedly fleeced and abandoned with her two kids on a deserted Kasba road on Sunday evening.
Taxi driver Mohammad Sarfaraz, arrested on Tuesday, has admitted to the crime, an officer said.
The tracking down of so many taxis proves that an officer at a Behala traffic guard had lied when he told Alpana Pal that “nothing much could be done” with “just the last four digits” that she could mention.
“We have traced 12 taxis with registration numbers matching the four digits mentioned by the complainant. We are in the process of identifying the offending vehicle and the rogue driver,” deputy police commissioner (traffic) Dilip Adak had earlier said.
An officer of the traffic department said it only took “a few minutes” to track down the vehicles with the help of a software called VAHAN.
Alpana, who works in a private firm, narrated a harrowing experience while she and her two sons — Rishav, 11, and Rohan, 9, — were returning home in a taxi from Science City on Sunday evening.
The taxi the Behala residents had boarded was speeding through Bosepukur when the driver allegedly faked a snag and told the woman to get off with her children. A “helper” was sitting beside the driver and both were wearing the cabbie uniform.
The taxi meter read 120 (Rs 242) though the fare from Science City to Kasba can never be more than Rs 60.
Despite realising that the meter had been tampered with, Alpana decided to pay Rs 242 to avoid trouble.
“I handed the driver a Rs500 note but he claimed that it was Rs 50. Keen to avoid a confrontation on the deserted stretch, I handed him a Rs1,000 note. This time, too, he played the same trick before speeding away,” she said. “In the semi-darkness, I and Rishav could only make out the last four digits of the registration number.”
On her way home the woman spotted a sergeant near the Taratala crossing and narrated the ordeal to him. “The sergeant asked me to report the matter to a police kiosk. The officer at the kiosk nearby gave me a taxi refusal form but none of the options in it corresponded to what I had faced. The cop then told me to go to a traffic guard if I needed further help,” Alpana said.
“At the traffic guard near Behala Chowrasta, an officer handed me a similar form and bluntly told me that nothing much could be done if all I could provide were just the last four digits of the taxi’s registration number.”