What­sApp spells trou­ble for er­rant auto driv­ers

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Naveeta Singh naveeta. singh@ dnain­dia. net

It has been hardly a month since the Thane traf­fic po­lice started tak­ing com­plaints against er­rant rick­shaw driv­ers, and the de­part­ment claims to have re­ceived and solved 137 com­plaints re­lated to rick­shaw and traf­fic dur­ing this pe­riod.

Us­ing the pop­u­lar­ity and ease of What­sApp af­ter it be­came a hit among so­cial me­dia users, the Thane traf­fic po­lice had started an ini­tia­tive of re­ceiv­ing pas­sen­ger com­plaints on What­sApp. This was mainly be­cause a lot of peo­ple who were at the re­ceiv­ing end of er­rant rick­shaw driv­ers de­ferred tak­ing ac­tion against the lat­ter cit­ing cum­ber­some le­gal pro­cesses.

“Most of th­ese peo­ple would grum­ble if the driver was rude or charged the wrong auto fare, and that would be it,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial from Thane traf­fic po­lice de­part­ment. “They would just walk away from the sit­u­a­tion cit­ing time con­straints in­volved in lodg­ing a com­plaint against the er­rant rick­shaw driver,” he added.

Hence, to pro­vide a quick grievance re­dres­sal fo­rum to such pas­sen­gers, the Thane traf­fic po­lice launched the ini­tia­tive to re­ceive com­plaints on What­sApp in the last week of April. Un­der it, one just has to click the rick­shaw’s li­cence plate num­ber with the driver’s photo ( if pos­si­ble) and send it to the traf­fic po­lice’s What­sApp num­ber, and the de­part­ment would en­sure ac­tion and also re­ply to your mes­sage about the ac­tion taken.

This con­ve­nient sys­tem seems to have proved to be a hit. DCP Rashmi Karandikar of the Thane traf­fic po­lice said, “From the day it was ini­ti­ated till to­day, we have re­ceived 137 com­plaints and all of them have been ad­dressed.” She added: “Be­sides com- plaints against rick­shaw driv­ers, we have also re­ceived in­ti­ma­tion re­gard­ing traf­fic prob­lems, park­ing is­sues, etc on our What­sApp num­ber.”

So be­fore you park your car or bike il­le­gally some­where, do re­mem­ber that some­one might click the pic­ture and send it on this What­sApp to have your ve­hi­cle towed away.

More­over, to dis­ci­pline the rick­shaw driv­ers who are ha­bit­ual de­fault­ers, the de­part­ment has also for­warded in­for­ma­tion about two par­tic­u­lar driv­ers to the Re­gional Trans­port Of­fice to get their li­cences re­voked. “Now, it is up to the RTO to take nec­es­sary ac­tion,” Karandikar said. “The stu­dents used to mes­sage their seat num­bers to the ac­cused on What­sApp and later papers were pro­vided to them,” Nis­han­dar said.

“Some stu­dents would just sign their at­ten­dance and leave the papers with­out writ­ing a word and they would later write the papers. The an­swer sheets had come from exam cen­tres in Kar­jat, Kharghar, Airoli, Kamothe and Navi Mum­bai,” he added. The ac­cused have been booked for cheat­ing, crim­i­nal breach of trust and crim­i­nal mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of prop­erty.

Con­troller of ex­am­i­na­tion Deepak Vasav said: “Soon af­ter re­ceiv­ing a po­lice in­quiry re­port, a meet­ing will be held by the exam com­mit­tee ex­pe­di­tiously and strict ac­tion will be taken against the guilty.”

Ab­hi­nav P. Kocharekar

A labourer in a salt pan in Mahul makes his way back home af­ter work on Satur­day —

File photo of an auto driver re­fus­ing to carry a cus­tomer

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