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Auto driver strikes again

Calcutta, Feb. 15: An autorickshaw driver allegedly pushed and punched a male passenger during an altercation over a change of Rs 4 near Tollygunge this afternoon.

The driver, who has been arrested, has been booked for attempt to murder. The victim, 35-year-old Amol Majumdar, suffered head injuries and had to be given two stitches.

The attack is another pointer to how the transport department has failed to rein in rogue auto drivers, most of whom are affiliated to Trinamul Congress unions.

A few weeks ago, an auto driver had been accused of grabbing a woman by her throat in New Alipore over change on a day transport minister Madan Mitra hit the roads a few kilometres away to take stock of the situation following complaints that three-wheeler drivers were flouting rules and assaulting passengers.

Today’s assault came three days after the transport department rolled out a set of strictures to discipline rouge auto drivers.

Majumdar, who lives in Bijoygarh, had boarded the auto from Tollygunge today and given the driver a 10-rupee note to pay for a ride to Ranikuthi that costs Rs 6.

“The moment I gave him the note, the driver began abusing me. He said I should have told him before boarding the auto that I did not have change. When I offered him Re 1 so that he could return Rs 5, he got more angry,” Majumdar said.

Driver Sagar Karmakar allegedly pushed Majumdar, who fell down. “When I tried to get up, he punched me on the right side of my head, just above my right ear. He was wearing several rings and I started bleeding,” the passenger said.

Passers-by overpowered Karmakar and took him to a nearby police kiosk. Later, Majumdar lodged an FIR at Regent Park police station.

“It is surprising that these auto drivers are not afraid of the consequences of their actions. Even a charge as stringent as attempt to murder, which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years, is not a deterrent,” a police officer said.