ITANAGAR, Aug 14: In a new scare regarding the safety of women, three women were allegedly threatened with rape and murder by their cab driver on 11 August during their journey from Itanagar to the airport in Guwahati.
In an FIR, the three women, Tonu Riba, Nandani Banerjee and Kari Padu, said they had booked their seats through the Sahara counter in Naharlagun, which is run by one Bipul Kumar.
The three women were picked up from their locations in Itanagar by a silver-coloured passenger cab (Innova) to travel to Guwahati at around 3 am on 11 August.
Reportedly, the cab driver, identified as Nilu Singh, underwent a sudden change in behaviour as soon as the cab crossed Hollongi.
A few kilometres after crossing Hollongi, Singh is said to have stopped the car and gone out for some 10 minutes. When he returned, the women in the car smelt a smoky odour, and they tried to lower the windows; but Singh allegedly did not allow them to and kept the doors locked through the central locking system in the driver’s side.
The women said they soon came across a police patrol team which signalled the vehicle to stop, but Singh did not stop and instead sped up.
The women also reported that Singh continued driving recklessly and later, between Hollongi and Gohpur, he hit a boy.
When Banerjee, who was on the front seat, asked Singh to stop the car and help the boy, he shouted back at her for overreacting.
The women managed to make him halt at Borgaon in Assam (a stoppage point for passenger cabs), and they decided to change the cab.
Before leaving, Riba took a photograph of the car’s registration number, when Singh snatched her phone.
He also tried to snatch her handbag when she was taking it out of the cab.
When Banerjee went to pick up her luggage from the boot, Singh slammed the door, which caused her injuries on the head.
The driver reportedly continued to hurl abuses, and threatened to rape and murder them before running them over with the car.
Riba said, “There were so many people around us but no one came to help us. None of them said anything to the man who was publicly threatening to rape and murder us. There were so many from Arunachal as well, but no one spoke up.”
Fortunately for the women, another Innova driver, identified as Jaan Gogoi, arrived at the scene and intervened.
“Gogoi questioned the others on why they were not saying or doing anything when the man was issuing an open threat. That’s when everyone came forward to help us,” Riba said.
The crowd reportedly tried to beat up Singh, but he immediately got into the car and drove off. He also tried to run over Gogoi while making his escape.
The women were assisted by Gogoi and another Innova driver in reporting the matter to the police in Biswanath Chariali.
However, Gogoi was informed by other drivers that Singh was waiting at Sootea for the women.
Soon after, Padu got a call from Singh, which was received by a police officer. During the conversation, Singh reportedly threatened the police officer, repeated his threat to rape and murder the women, and said the police would be unable to do anything about it.
He called a second time with the same warning, which was received by a police officer again.
Considering the situation, the police provided an escort to the two passenger vehicles. However, they did not find Singh anywhere near the spot where he was said to have been waiting.
It has also been informed that Sahara counter’s Kumar does not have a photograph or any other relevant documents of his driver to provide to the police for identification.
In a conversation with this daily, Riba said, “We were lucky to have escaped the situation unharmed. But it is necessary that people know about such incidents, so that they can remain alert and take necessary information about their driver beforehand. The counter owners should also keep the safety of passengers in mind. They should verify their drivers before leaving our lives in their hands.”
Reportedly, driver Singh is still absconding with the vehicle, a silver-coloured Innova, bearing registration number AS-01-AH8933.
This daily could not get a statement from Kumar on his passenger safety policy.