Quick-thinking auto driver talks girl out of suicide

Updated - February 21, 2016 05:39 am IST

Published - February 21, 2016 12:00 am IST - MUMBAI:

Sureschandra Pandey

Sureschandra Pandey

It was a routine Friday evening for autorickshaw driver Sureshchandra Pandey when he picked up a fare outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport around 6 pm and started towards Andheri. What followed, however, was anything but routine.

Mr Pandey’s passenger, a 28-year-old girl, first told him to take her to Yaari Road in Andheri. Five minutes later, the girl told him to take her to Bandstand. While this in itself was not unusual, what the girl said next caught his attention.

“The girl told me to drop her off at Bandstand so that she could jump into the sea and never be found again. I first thought she was joking and laughed at her statement. However, she repeated the same thing several times during the journey, after which I became worried. I pulled over in Vile Parle and asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she had no one in the world and saw no reason to continue living,” Mr Pandey, an Uttar Pradesh native who has been driving an auto in Mumbai since 1985, told The Hindu .

For the next half-an-hour, he tried to reason with the girl, hoping to talk her out of killing herself. The girl, originally from New Delhi, told him she had recently lost her job and had been depressed ever since. Her mother had visited her earlier this week, and had returned to Delhi after an altercation. It was after dropping her mother to the airport that the girl boarded Mr Pandey’s auto.

“I realised that if I refused to take her to Bandstand, she would only hail another auto, and the auto driver might not care. I had to think fast. I told her that I would take her to the Airport police station, and that the police would be able to prevent her mother from boarding her flight. She agreed and I sped to the police station,” he said.

Ten minutes later, he had briefed the duty officer at Airport police station about the girl in his auto.

The police immediately took control of the situation and began counselling the girl against suicide. They even called the girl’s mother and asked her to not leave but the mother refused, officers said.

Finally, nearly two hours later, the girl was taken to Cooper Hospital, where she being counselled by psychiatrists. An officer with the Airport police station said the case is being handled by a woman officer.

Mr Pandey said, “I know it is a tendency among people to shy away from such situations, but I have five children, three of them girls. What if it had been one of my daughters? How would I feel if one of them wanted to take such an extreme step and no one helped her?”

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