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Auto driver abuses lady

- Male colleague slapped, dared to take action

Calcutta, Feb. 1: A woman pedestrian initially intimidated after alleged abuse from an auto driver changed her mind and lodged a police complaint after he leeringly dared her to “take action” today.

Police have arrested the driver, who is also accused of slapping a male colleague of the young woman, and booked him on charges carrying a maximum sentence of seven years.

The three-wheeler had hit the woman from behind while taking a turn on a Lake Town road, and her initial decision to swallow the drivers’ humiliating behaviour reflects commuters’ wariness following reports of serial atrocities by lawless auto drivers.

The woman, a sales executive with a private firm in Salt Lake Sector V, alleged that as the driver slapped her colleague, his hand had brushed her face too.

Driver Roshan Jha, in his late twenties, has been remanded in four days’ judicial custody. A police officer said Jha had been charged with assault, use of criminal force on a woman with the intention to disrobe, wrongful restraint, and criminal intimidation.

The woman said she had been waiting at a bus stop near the Lake Town-Jessore Road crossing with a male and a female colleague when she was hit. “I told the driver he should be careful, but he started abusing me,” said the resident of Naihati, North 24-Parganas.

“When my male colleague protested, the driver pushed him and then slapped him when he leaned towards his seat. The driver’s hand struck my face too.”

Seeing the area was swarming with autos, the three of them felt scared and would have let the matter pass, she said. But when Jha, before speeding away, dared her and her colleagues to take action against him, it put their back up.

“Initially, we didn’t want to drag the matter further. But when the driver pointed a finger at me and challenged me, we decided to report the incident to the police,” she said.

The frequency of auto drivers assaulting or misbehaving with passengers has increased in recent months in the city, where they enjoy political patronage and an unofficial licence to break road rules.