Leg broken in leap to escape rogue driver

Driver of shuttle car tried to molest a store assistant of a shopping mall

  • Published 7.01.19, 3:55 AM
  • Updated 7.01.19, 3:55 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
The Tata Sumo in front of Haridevpur police station. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

A 34-year-old woman returning from work broke her left ankle as she jumped off a moving “shuttle car” near Haridevpur on Saturday night after the driver allegedly passed lewd comments, refused to stop at her destination and tried to pull her towards him.

Another woman, who was in a middle-row seat of the Tata Sumo, also jumped off, the complainant has told police. For several preceding minutes, both women — the only passengers at the time — had screamed to the roadside shops for help.

According to the complainant, the driver tried to molest her even while driving past Haridevpur police station.

Kanai Das, 50, was arrested after local people chased the Sumo on motorcycles and autos and caught him. The police could not trace the second woman.

“Shuttle cars” are commercial or private vehicles that illegally ferry passengers along a fixed route against a fare. They don’t use taximeters.

The complainant, a store assistant at a shopping mall, had boarded the shuttle car at the Anwar Shah-Deshapran Shashmal crossing around 9pm, like she does every day after work.

“There were eight or nine other passengers,” her husband, a private firm employee, said. “She sat in the front seat. Except for the woman on the middle row, the rest got off at Keorapukur. Soon, the driver started passing lewd remarks. She protested and the other woman joined in.”

He added: “My wife told me the driver got scared when he realised the other woman was still in the car. He increased the speed, and both women began shouting for help.”

As the women screamed, the Sumo travelled 1.5km from Keorapukur to Kabardanga, where the complainant was to get off and catch an auto, the police said. But the driver did not stop. “He took Julpia Road and headed towards Nepalgunge,” the husband said.

“My wife unlocked the door and put one foot on the footboard to jump. The driver tried to pull her inside.”

Several auto drivers and local youths at Kabardanga More had heard the women’s screams. “They were chasing the Sumo on motorcycles and autos. The driver sensed trouble and slowed down to give the women a chance to jump,” an officer said. Both women jumped.

“My wife was too traumatised to call me,” the husband said. “One of the auto drivers who had given chase did. I rushed and took her to hospital.”

“Das denied the charges but when we asked him why he had not stopped at Kabardanga, he had no answer,” an officer said.

The police have recorded the statements of auto driver Sujay Malik and vegetable vendor Sunny Galot, who had chased and caught the Sumo.

The pursuers smashed the Sumo’s windscreen. Das has been charged with using criminal force to outrage a woman’s modesty, voluntarily causing hurt and wrongful restraint.