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Singapore tourist writes to PMO, gets cheat cabbie in Mumbai punished

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 April 2016, 15:06 IST

One of the Central government's primary focus areas, under both the UPA and the NDA,has been to boost India's image as a tourism destination.

At the local level too, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has been trying to instil the motto of 'Atithi Devo Bhava' (guest is god) into tourist guides, agents, taxi operators and drivers.

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The authorities even roped in Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan to do a series of advertisements to support the campaign. But despite their best efforts, there are still many who continue to cheat foreign tourists and even business travellers.

The number of such rogues is considerably high in metropolitan cities, especially Mumbai. Once they spot a foreign national, syndicates jump into action at airports, railway stations, taxi stands and even markets. Most of the time, these people manage to go scot free, becauseeither the victims do not lodge complaints against them, or do not pursue the complaints even if they do lodge them.

But not Singapore citizen Raymond Yeo, who was cheated by a cab driver in Mumbai last year and decided to take the matter to the Prime Minister's Office. The driver has now been punished – his driving licence and taxi permit have both been suspended for a month.

How Yeo got cheated

On 11 April last year, Yeo hired a cab to go to Terminal 2 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from a five-star hotel. The distance from the hotel to the destination is just one kilometre, and the fare was fixed at Rs 200.

However, upon arrival at the airport, the cab driver, identified as Jamil Ahmed Khan, demanded Rs 500, citing the heavy luggage Yeo was carrying.

Raymond Yeo was cheated by cabbie Jamil in Mumbai last year, and decided to take it up with the PMO

In the complaint he lodged with the PMO, Yeo said the driver refused to charge as per the metre,and had agreed to a fare of Rs 200 for the trip. "However, on reaching the airport, the driver demanded Rs 500, saying that the luggage was too heavy. This is bad for India's image and tourism, you have to get rid of such bad taxi drivers.

Raymond Yeo (L)

"The PMO took duecognisance of the complaint, and directed the Transport Department ofMaharashtra to take necessary action.After the department received the letter on 28 March this year, the search for the car and the driver began on a war footing. With the help of social workers, department officials traced the car and identified the driver as Jamil Ahmed Khan on 6 April.

At first, Jamil denied having cheated Yeo. But when interrogated by the authorities, he confessed to the crime.

A larger problem

The investigation into the matterhasnot only exposed the rogue driver, but also the lacunae in the vehicle registration process at the RTO.

The car in question is owned by M/s Mahek Tours and Travels, Thane.

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"Since the car was registered at Thane, the complaint was forwarded to our office. And since it had come from the PMO, the complaint was taken on priority. But when our staff went to the address mentioned in the registration documents of the vehicle, it was revealed that the address did not exist," said a senior RTO official from Thane.

The cab in question was found to be registered at a bogus address in Thane district

"The correct address was found on insurance documents of the vehicle, which led us to the spot, but we didn't find either the owner or the driver there.

"After this, the registration number of the vehicle was circulated among the social workers and NGOs helping the RTO. After the activists traced the car, the officials confiscated it.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 10 April 2016, 15:06 IST