‘Taxi owners must enforce guidelines’

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The police need to adopt a new perspective on security given the number of kidnaps,
robberies, and even murder of citizens, many of them as a result of travelling in private transport such as cabs late at night.

Half the work force (IT/BPO/ITES) in the city travels by cab. But there is a severe dearth of drivers which has led to indiscriminate hiring, without any or adequate background checks. A driver’s licence should not be the only qualification for a job that requires passengers to be transported safely at night.

A data base of these hired cars and background checks of their personnel by the police is inevitable. Bengaluru’s traffic police chief has advocated displaying of driver’s licence in maxi-cabs as is the case with autos.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Additional Commissioner of Police for Traffic, M.A. Saleem said: “For auto drivers we have a system where they have to display the card from the traffic police department, and we can have the same thing for maxi-cabs. The system can be introduced by the traffic police department in collaboration with the state transport department. It’s a very effective system and can help in promoting safe commuting for passengers hiring private cabs. We will hold discussions on the feasibility of the project with the departments concerned.”

With increasing demand, the number of private taxi operators has mushroomed in the city. There are over 2.5 lakh cabs operating in Bengaluru, but only a few prominent luxury cab operators have inculcated measures for safety of passengers.

“In an effort to ensure safe travel, we have issued guidelines to taxi operators which they have to strictly enforce. This includes police verification of the driver before recruiting him, joining certificate for drivers, address proof of the drivers for records and a mandatory GPS system in all taxis,” said the general secretary of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Operators’ Association (BTTOA), K. Radhakrishna Holla.

Accused hired without background check

When Team DC visited Mr Shivananda’s residence in Sanjay Nagar on Thursday afternoon, the owner of the cab in which he was allegedly abducted was present outside his house.

The owner of the cab KA 50 – 2011, Mr Balram, said: “We provide taxi service to BMRCL and it is unfortunate that such an incident took place. Jayant, the driver involved in the abduction, was hired by me about 15 days ago. But while recruiting him, I did not ask him to produce his identity proof and I did not check his antecedents. The taxi which was used by Jayant was used for picking and dropping Shivananda. Last night someone else from his mobile called me and told me that the cab is going to Tumkur and will return late to Bengaluru.”

* We had written to the State Transport Department mandating the implementation of GPS system for all maxi-cabs. The system can track the movement of a vehicle at any given time and hence will ensure safety. The Transport Department is yet to take a decision.

M.A. Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic)

* It is traumatic to hear about such incidents. It is very unsafe for the employees of IT companies as well as the general public using the cab services. The police must initiate strict action against the offenders and come out with stringent measures to regulate the cab service in the city.

Vasundara Rao, Employee of an IT company

Expert column

Krishnam Raju, Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime)

We are taking all preventive measures to make sure the city is safe. Compared to other metros, kidnap cases here are quite less. Usually, those who wear jewellery are more prone to kidnapping.
The moment a missing case is registered we try to ensure the victim comes back safe, and immediately alert our counterparts.

The kidnap ends in murder when the accused fears that their identity will be revealed. Going by the history of kidnap cases reported this year, all the accused cab drivers were first-time offenders. They had kidnapped the victims for ransom and later murdered them since they wanted to conceal their identity. However the main intention for them to commit the offence will only be known once the investigation is completed.

The public should be cautious when they happen to travel with jewellery or other valuables and ensure that they do not display their valuables publicly.

Past incidents

BPO employee Prathiba Srikantamurthy was allegedly raped and murdered by cab driver Shiva Kumar in December 2005.

Multi-millionaire jeweller Manoj Kumar Grandhi (44), owner of Vaibhav group of companies operating in jewellery and property development was kidnapped and murdered by three cab drivers in February, 2011. The police recovered the body from the Charmadi Ghat in the Banakal police limits.

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