Delhi auto drivers taken for a ride by financiers’ mafia

March 10th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Nabeel A. Khan
New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Delhiites often complain of autorickshaw drivers overcharging and being rude, but not many passengers know that a majority of these drivers are a harried lot as they fall victim to auto financiers who are out to con them of their money and even their vehicles.

“As many as 50,000 of the total of 54,000 autorickshaw drivers in Delhi are in the vice-like grip of financiers who are deceiving them of crores (millions) of rupees by deploying illegal and high-handed tactics,” said Rakesh Agarwal, secretary of NyayaBhoomi, an NGO that has launched a campaign against these auto finance mafias.

“Forged signatures, (getting) signatures on blank papers and dealing in undated papers are some of the tactics that they use to rob autorickshaw drivers of their only source of livelihood,” Agarwal told IANS.

One such father-son duo that duped scores of people through their auto finance firm was caught by the police Saturday, an official said. Manoj and Ram Avatar, who operated under the name of Manoj Auto Deals in west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar, were Sunday sent to police remand until March 12 by a city court. They apparently worked in tandem with several other financiers too.

Netrapal was one of the many auto drivers who fell into their trap.

“I wanted to replace my old autorickshaw with a new one. So I sold the old one to Manoj and Ram Avatar in January for Rs.270,000 and also gave them another Rs.60,000 to get a new one. They agreed to give a new auto for Rs.430,000, so I wanted a loan of Rs.100,000,” Netrapal said.

He finally got a new auto from the accused, but later learnt that the two had taken a loan of Rs.300,000 on the same vehicle from another financier, while he got only a Rs.100,000 loan.

Another victim is Hari Om, whose problem is even more complicated. He bought an autorickshaw from Manoj Auto Deals, but the vehicle’s documents show someone else as the owner. And the receipts issued by the father-son team are bogus and bear no name.

A case against Manoj and Ram Avatar was registered at the Pitampura police station after intervention by NyayaBhoomi Saturday. Agarwal says there are several such auto mafias operating in the capital.

“More than 90 percent of the autorickshaws are owned by the so called auto-mafias working under the garb of financiers. They obtain autorickshaws for around Rs.150,000 on fake names and then sell them to the drivers for over Rs.300,000. And to pay the instalments the autodrivers turn unethical,” Agarwal said.

Said Sanjay Kumar, who has been driving an auto for 10 years: “I bought an auto in 2000, by paying Rs.30,000 and the rest on finance. I paid the whole amount in one-and-a-half years and the financier took my all receipts and promised to give me the papers in two-three days, but he did not. Then I approached another financier, Vikas Auto … but the vehicle is still not on my name.

NyayaBhoomi last week launched a campaign against these auto mafias and has put up posters on autorickshaws, publicising its contact number 011-40517777 on which people can call and convey their grievances.

Another initiative of the NGOs is to encourage auto drivers to be honest and well-mannered.

Agarwal said he would write to the officials concerned, including the chief minister and the transport minister, and urge them to constitute a high-level committee to probe the auto-finance mafia.

(Nabeel A.Khan can be contacted at

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