Women's panel files suo moto case against auto driver for misbehaving with its member

Kerala Women's Commission takes up case against auto driver for misbehaving with its member  Shahida Kamal
EM Radha and Shahida Kamal speak to the auto-driver at the Adalat. Photo: Sameer A Hameed

Perinthalmanna: The Kerala Women's Commission on Tuesday registered a suo moto case against an autorickshaw driver for misbehaving with one of its members Shahida Kamaal in Perinthalmanna in Kerala's Malappuram district.

A case has been registered against Pariyapuram native Azkar Ali for refusing to undertake a short trip, asking Shahida to get out of the vehicle and insulting her modesty.

The driver, who was summoned to the commission's sitting on Wednesday, submitted an apology letter.

“A decision will be taken only after the complete sitting of the commission,” informed commission member E M Radha. In all likelihood, the Motor Vehicles Department may suspend the driver's licence.

The commission will also urge the Transport Commission to register cases against drivers who refuse to undertake short trips.

“Creation of more pre-paid auto counters at the railway stations is the need of the hour. Stringent action should be taken against those who ask women to get out of the vehicle during odd hours,” the commission said.

Not an isolated incident

Shahida Kamal
Shahida Kamal

“The incident is not isolated. This is something encountered by woman everyday,” Shahida said after the incident.

The incident took place at 6:30 am on Tuesday near Perinthalmanna Angadipuram Railway station.

After arriving in the Kochuveli-Nilambur Rajyarani Express, Shahida waited in the queue at the pre-paid auto counter. However, the driver was unwilling to undertake the short trip. He insisted that he was not familiar with the area. After taking the auto forward for a distance, he asked her to get out of the vehicle in a deserted by-lane and insulted her.

Shahida was in Perinthalamana for a Kudumbasree event. When she called up the event organisers for help, the driver recognised her and dropped her at the venue.

“This incident indicates that certain people are still reluctant to accept the emerging social scenario where women are becoming more independent,” Shahida wrote in an opinion piece in Malayala Manorama.

Thousands of girl students in Malappuram depend on Angadippuram railway station everyday. Women heading to Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) and Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences in Thiruvananthapuram start their journey from the station. Many of them have been asked to leave auto-rickshaws in a similar manner at odd hours,” she wrote.

“A few days ago a woman heading to the RCC with her cancer patient daughter was also deserted midway in a similar manner. I have received a complaint to this effect,” Shahida wrote.

“Kerala always tried to make a statement on gender equality and freedom through initiatives like 'Night Walk for Women'. Denying a ride to a woman at odd hours citing petty reasons is wrong,” she wrote.

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