Driver Nikunja Mondal and his auto in front Lake Town police station on Monday. He has been arrested and criminal charges pressed against him. Picture by Mayukh Sengupta
An auto driver ran red lights on VIP Road twice over, hit a motorbike and assaulted two police volunteers when they intercepted him on Monday evening.
Nikunja Mondal, 47, wasn’t carrying any passenger but a cousin, Mrityunjay Mondal, 45, in the rear seat. They were on their way to a relative’s house at Sreebhumi in Lake Town.
Both were arrested for the assault on green police volunteers.
The auto (WB 19 3659) had permission to ply between the Sinthee crossing and Kamarhati, an officer said.
The incident happened around 5pm when Nikunja was speeding through the wrong direction of a one-way link road in Lake Town, the stretch connecting Jessore Road with VIP Road.
He jumped a red light at the Sreebhumi crossing and again on VIP Road before hitting a bike while trying to run another stop signal on the Ultadanga-bound flank of the road.
“When a police volunteer stopped him, the auto driver pushed him and tore his shirt. He then sped away,” said an officer of Lake Town police station.
Indrajit Adhikari, the police volunteer, tried to chase the auto but gave up after a while because the vehicle took a U-turn from the Golaghata-VIP Road crossing, about 75m from the site of the incident. The auto came to the Lake Town crossing and took a sharp left turn to enter Dakshindari Road.
By then, officers of Lake Town traffic guard had alerted on-duty policemen along the crossing.
Satyajit Mistry, a 29-year-old green police volunteer, spotted the auto and tried to intercept it in front of Daffodil nursing home on Dakshindari Road. “This time, the volunteer jumped into the auto, sat by the driver and asked him to return to the Lake Town crossing. The driver and his cousin initially tried to push him out and then started punching him,” said the officer.
Mistry managed to pluck out the ignition key despite the blows rained on him. “This brought the auto to a halt. Constables and officers reached the spot by then and cornered the duo. They were subsequently arrested,” the officer said.
The duo were charged under IPC sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (act done by several persons with common intention).
If found guilty, they can be imprisoned for a maximum of seven years.
Officers of Bidhannagar commissionerate said four green police volunteers, an equal number of constables and three officers were deployed every day to manage traffic at the Lake Town crossing on VIP Road — one of the busiest along the stretch.
Motorists and commuters begged to differ, alleging that they had seldom noticed a senior officer or constable on duty on that stretch.
They said only green police volunteers were seen on the road.
“Since they don’t have any power to prosecute, autos and other vehicles rarely obey them. Rogue drivers violate traffic rules and jump red lights signals at will. Even during peak hours in the morning and evening, one can hardly find a traffic policeman at the crossing. Who will be afraid of green police volunteers wielding amusing-looking batons made of plastic pipes?” asked Sanchari Bhowmik, a resident of Lake Town’s B block who drives daily on this road to her office at Sector V.
The government has been besieged with complaints of “auto-cracy” — such as indiscriminate fare hike, abrupt change of routes, rude behaviour with passengers and rampant violation of traffic rules by auto drivers.
However, efforts to rein in truant auto drivers have not yielded any result.
In January this year, a gang comprising auto drivers had assaulted eight cops, including an inspector and four sergeants after one of them slapped cases on several drivers for carrying more than four passengers in Tangra.
In April, Arnab Mitra, an employee of a real estate company, was allegedly punched in the face and struck with a sharp piece of iron by a group of drivers for protesting when an auto with faulty brakes threw him off his bike near Kalighat.