My bitter experience with rozedar auto wallah. At times once come across incidents that are difficult to forget. So is this incident that happened on July 3, writes Pola Amin. I was far from my place and had just 30 minutes to reach my home to break my fast. After finishing my work I started looking for an auto. A few that I waved at declined to take me to Okhla, a Muslim dominated deprived locality in Delhi.
Anyhow, my efforts yielded positive results as one auto driver agreed to drop me to my destination. When asked to go by meter he declined and demanded a fixed amount. As I had no time I got into the auto and complained that it is unethical not to go by meter. To which he retorted: “You should be grateful that I am taking you.” By that time I had no idea about the religion of the driver.
After a few minutes he took out his mobile to see the time. Then I asked him: “Where do you live?” He said Hosrani. Then I asked his name and it was then it dawned on me that he was a Muslim and fasting. The man had a trimmed beard.
Then I said: “You should be careful to go by meter as you are fasting. It is important to go by the law.” He said in a rough tone: “I didn’t ask for the moon. There are 50 people like you who go daily to Okhla without meter.” He was unwilling to concede like many Muslim drivers that he was at fault. I stopped insisting as it was Ramzan despite knowing the fact that he was charging me Rs 40 more from the meter.
After coming to Jamia Nagar he started throwing tantrums to take the auto in the narrow lane. By the time the azan started and we broke the Iftar. I invited him to have Iftar with me. But he asked for a nearby mosque and left.
This is not something new for me. As a regular auto rider I have seen most of the time that it is very difficult to convince Muslim auto drivers, mostly locals, to go by the meter. Once a resident told me that how he was forced to pay Rs 50 to an auto driver to take his ailing relative to Holy Family Hospital from Batla House. A few days ago when I had to visit Jamia an auto driver demanded Rs 50 from Abul Fazal Enclave. If one goes by meter it won’t be more than Rs 30.
And as Eid shopping peaks many residents lamented about how they are being fleeced by local auto drivers, mostly Muslims. If one goes by meter from AFE the charge comes up to Rs 68. But local drivers ask from something between Rs 100 and Rs 120 something that many residents are forced to give. For many Ramzan is a month of making money.
This is not to say that all local Muslim auto drivers are bad. There are good ones also who goes by the meter without hesitation. But their numbers unfortunately are a few and they are certainly a rare of the rarest breed in Okhla. All told the purpose of the write-up is not to blame or tarnish image of Muslims auto drivers. This is just to express sadness and create awareness among them that people should follow the law and strive to earn livelihood with hard work and honesty, something that Muslims are taught to do.
But it is unfortunate that many Muslims for the sake of worldly pleasure set aside values and ethics enshrined in their religion. Also residents are to be blamed who don’t complain to the authorities about auto drivers not going by meter.