It was early 1990s. Myself at Delhi as General Secretary of E.III Union. I had to start for Jaipur early morning by 06.00 hours train. It was December and very cold. Had only returned late last night from another tour. I got at about 04.30 hours took bath and went outside Dada Ghosh Bhawan to the road. Waited for auto riksha to Delhi Railway Station from where the train starts. Very few autos, all engaged. After some time an auto came, stopped near me. Driver asked me where I have to go? Told him, old Delhi railway station. Ok, get in. There was another passenger inside. I asked him where he is going. He also going to Delhi Railway Station. Fine. After about 10 minutes the driver stopped and got down. we also got down. At that time most of the autos were very old and break down was normal. ( It was some years later that the state government prohibited autos more than 15 years from plying which improved the situation). The driver told that petrol is almost finished and have to be filled from the next petrol pump. Asked us to get in. He asked me to get in first so that the cold will be less. The other passenger sat on the side. The driver was a turbaned Sikh. Auto started.

The driver asked me to pay Rs. 200/ as charge stating that he had to fuel at the next petrol pump. I took my purse and told him that the charge is too much and that I have payed only Rs.60- last night when coming from the same railway station. All of a sudden, he snatched my purse from my hand and took Rs. 200/ from the purse. Returned the purse to me. When I strongly protested, my co-passenger told me to wait till we reach the station, where complaint can be made. I had thought that he will support me. Immediately I understood the situation. I was trapped inside the auto. The auto turned to a side road which was narrow and there was not much traffic. I got a bit panicky, but I did not show. The small brief case I used to take was with me. The driver stopped the auto, probably to pass urine. I used the opportunity, pushed the young man and was on the road. I started running on the opposite side. Fortunately they did not follow. After about 10 minutes, I reached the main road, got another auto. I told the driver what happened and requested to rush to the station to catch the train. I told him that I have got only Rs. 10 with me. He said no problem. On the way there was a Police Constable on traffic duty. I told him the incident asking to inform 100. (Mobile telephones have not been introduced). He said that he is on traffic duty and kept silent. The auto driver took me to the Railway station. The train was almost to start. The auto driver did not take any money from me although I offered him the Rs. 10 available with me. When getting in to the train I saw a young lady who had come to see off her relatives. I told her to inform 100 about the incident. I got in. One hot tea and I was OK. Comrades will come to the station to receive me and the return ticket is already booked.

I reached Jaipur, attended the meeting and returned by night. Next morning at about 08.00 hours I called No. 100 and reported the matter. They asked my place and within some 10 minutes rushed in to the office.’Which side the auto riksha has gone’ they asked. I told them that it was the incident of yesterday. Then they told me to file a complaint in the nearby police station.

I went to the Police station and complained. The SHO asked me to give it in writing and told me to write that the driver has taken Rs. 1,000 from the purse. I told him that it was only Rs. 200 which he has robbed me. I gave the complaint like that only. When I was returning, the station writer called me to his room and asked whether I am from Kerala. He was a Malayalee. He told me that the chance of getting the money is almost nil. When I told him that the SHO wanted me to write Rs. 1,000 instead of Rs. 200, he smiled mischievously. All of a sudden, I understood. Further he advised me two things. Never protest in such situations for they may hurt you and even kill. Secondly, never get in to an auto riksha if some body is already there, and especially if there is a woman. I strictly always kept this advice in mind.

While here, the auto driver was a thief, or a thief created of the particular situation, another driver I remember who was a remarkable one. I was returning to Dada Ghosh Bhawan from Nizamuddin Railway Station in the night and hired an auto. On the way when it passed Talkatora stadium and was moving through the isolated road, we could see two auto rikshas stopped on the side. A woman was trying to get down from one auto riksha, but the driver of the auto was pushing her inside. My driver stopped the auto, went there, shouted and intervened. The woman got down with her baby, got in the other auto along with her husband and went off. The first auto riksha was still there. My driver came and we went on our route. I asked him what was the problem. He told me that once the family got in, the driver started harassing the woman. When the family saw another auto, they got it stopped and was trying to go by that auto but the driver was physically obstructing. Our driver was a well built young man and when he intervened, the issue was settled.

It is Delhi. A mixture of good and evil.