Mumbai: Just when Mumbai Police have finally begun putting the brakes on the bike racing menace in the city, autorickshaw drivers have joined the ranks of stuntmen. The video of an autorickshaw driver performing wheelies and ‘stoppies’ near Bandstand, Bandra, had gone viral on social media last year. However, this had a positive outcome — wannabe stuntmen disappeared from the area afterwards.
A few alert residents of Bandra (W), who also belong to the Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust (BBRT), informed the police about the nuisance at Bandstand, right opposite actor Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow, Mannat. A police officer said since the streets are empty, often bikers treat them as racetracks and stunt grounds, creating ruckus. Police also arrested the autorickshaw driver spotted performing stunts outside Mannat in November 2018.
Bandra Police acted in time to nip this trend in the bud by deploying a bandobast of 10 policemen, with reinforcements from other police stations too chipping in as needed. Girish Anavkar, a senior inspector at Bandra police station said, “It was observed that autorickshaw drivers, not just from Bandra and other suburban areas but those from Mankhurd, Dahisar and Wadala, participated in the rickshaw stunts near Bandstand area after 2am. So we began patrolling the area on foot and wheels, putting barricades on the road, especially at Jhenda (flag) Point at Bandra, so that every time a biker swooped past us, he was forced to slow down.” Tight bandobast was deployed from 7pm to 3am on weekends to crack down on such errant autorickshaw drivers. Police also met rickshaw drivers who often participated in such stunts and educated them on the pros and cons of their act.
Bandra Police alone have registered three cases of speeding and stunt-performing autorickshaws on Bandra Bandstand Road and booked the drivers under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Motor Vehicle Act for rash driving (section 279) and act endangering life and personal safety of others (section 336). A senior police officer said, “After the driver was arrested, we would impound the vehicle till the magistrate court gave us clearance. As it turned out, the owners of the vehicles were mostly based in Uttar Pradesh and were not keen on coming to the city to visit a police station. Eventually, it was the autorickshaw driver who lost his means of livelihood because of a stunt.” Realising the consequences of their actions, autorickshaw drivers have put an end to their stunt shows. Similar ‘bandobast’ is being undertaken to curb bike stunts on city streets.