Verification of auto drivers being undertaken

The Pink brigade in the city is all set to expand its presence. The autorickshaws with the pink stickers, labelling them women-friendly rides, are currently 150 in number and the City Police is in the process of adding another 2,500 to this.

The decision to increase the pink autorickshaw population has been in the offing for sometime now, but with the recent incident of an autorickshaw driver allegedly raping a girl in the city, the process to identify candidates who will do justice to the women-friendly label is being hastened.

At the same time, the criteria to get the label and the manner in which these autorickshaws will operate in the city once given the pink sticker, will be under strict scrutiny.

The police are already doing two rounds of verifications of each of the drivers who apply to get the pink sticker, according to P. Bijoy, Assistant Commissioner, Control Room. Regular monitoring of how these pink autorickshaws are on the roads too is on and will be strengthened, he said.

City Commissioner P. Vijayan, pointing out that drivers of approved pink autorickshaws had been issued separate identity cards, said any instance of a person other than the one who had been issued the ID card driving the autorickshaw would be viewed seriously. The ID card and the pink sticker would be withdrawn with immediate effect.

As for steps to enhance security for women in the city, Mr. Vijayan pointed out that steps were already being taken even before the unsavoury autorickshaw episode, which could be termed an isolated incident.

The Mission 30 Days drive of the police, in vogue till February 28, as well had special emphasis on women’s safety. One of the crucial components of the drive, in fact, was to arrange an interactive get-together of women police officials from all city police stations and women representatives of residents’ associations.

Rejitha G. of the Sakhi Women’s Resource Centre felt that autorickshaw drivers, particularly those of pink autos, would have to be sensitized separately, with thrust on treating women as a whole with respect rather than just behaving politely.

One way to avoid incidents as that of last week, where a girl was taken away from Thampanoor in broad daylight and raped, was to ensure that travel facilities in places like Thampanoor and the Medical College area were made safe.