| Autorickshaws at Rajapur in Patna on Monday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Several autorickshaws do not have police unique codes even four years after the programme was envisaged.
Patna police woke up to the reality after a shocking case of rape involving an autorickshaw driver. The police have now called for strict legal action against drivers of those autorickshaws vehicles that still do not have the unique codes.
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj said at least 10 per cent of autorickshaws plying on Patna’s roads did not have the codes. “While most of the work has been done, some autorickshaws still don’t have the police coding. The autorickshaw involved in last week’s rape incident did not have the unique code. The police have been warning that those caught without it would see their licence and registration cancelled. And yet, 3,000-4,000 autorickshaws still do not have the numbers. With random checks lined up, the police are looking at lodging criminal cases against drivers who have disobeyed. Legal options are being worked out in this connection,” the senior police officer said.
The number of autorickshaws in the city’s town area is around 30,000.
On February 28, a minor girl was wandering when Arvind, an autorickshaw driver, lured and picked her up from the Ramkrishna Nagar Bypass. Another man, identified as Ranjan, was already in the vehicle. The autodriver had promised to drop the girl in the Nala Road area but took her to Fatuha where the duo raped her at a secluded place. Late in the evening, while the girl was being taken towards Station Road from Chiriyatand Bridge, the auto rickshaw driver fled when a patrol policeman tried to stop him. The policemen gave chase and the duo were nabbed.
While the policemen have been patting their backs that the men were nabbed so fast, sources said it was a blot on the system that the police code plan is not in place even after four years.
“It was started in 2010 after a gangrape incident but the plan soon lost steam. The same was revived in 2012, but many autos still do not have the police code. This is a serious issue but the police and administration have not given it a serious thought. However, following the fresh incident, one needs to act fast. Random and serious checks apart, the police will also check if existing codes are genuine. Police stations will be asked to hold checks regarding the same as they have records of each vehicle plying in their respective areas,” another police officer told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity.
The Patna SSP, however, said the numbers had helped check crime. “Last September, the police arrested two men who had fled in an auto they were travelling in on seeing a police patrol team near Fatuha. The auto had the police code on the basis of which the auto was recovered and the man nabbed. It turned out the men were involved in a murder case and were returning to Patna after dumping the body. The codes helped the police. All vehicles will have them very soon,” the SSP said.
Auto unions blamed police for the incomplete work. “In some instances, the police at police stations asked for money for the code. But the work has not been completed yet. It is a fact that at least 10 per cent of vehicles still do not have the police codes,” said Rajkumar Jha, general secretary of the Bihar State Auto- Rickshaw Drivers’ Union.
As per plan, if an auto rickshaw’s originating point is Kotwali area, the unique code for the same will be K-1. The second auto will be coded as K-2 and so on.
Similarly, auto rickshaws plying in Jakanpur area will be coded as J-1, J-2, J-3 etc.
Furthermore, all Patna police stations have a separate register with details of auto- rickshaw drivers. For example, Kotwali police station has the name of the driver, registration number, his mobile number, address, name and address of the owner etc for the auto coded K-1.