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Punyasloke Bose



Punyasloke Bose


Driver Of Change

Driver Of Change

11 mins 111 11 mins 111

Uday had come from a state which was based totally on agriculture. There was no job outside the farm. The farm job was reserved for those few lucky who had an inheritance. For the nonfarm job, one had to look towards the states where there was industry and active service sector.

So Uday came to the city which held a lot of promise. Through a relative Uday had come to the city and within a few months after getting a toehold, he learned motor driving. This was a tough sector and Uday belonged to the tougher section of the society himself being underprivileged.

Getting a license though not easy but where there is a lot of greasing of palms no work is insurmountable. Managing the Police was a trick which Uday knew had to be mastered to stay afloat in this sector.

After getting a license Uday was hired as a cab driver. The owner first accompanied Uday with the cab as he didn't trust him. But later when the trust was established, Uday was given the sole authority to drive the car as per his desire provided he paid a fixed amount to the owner at the end of the day after the cost of fuel and repairs. That was not a too difficult task for him. Initially, it took time as Uday was wrapped in the cloak of honesty. But later on, when he got into the groove of things and knew the loopholes, Uday became smart enough to 'mint' money.

Then came the age of App Cabs. This is the Internet age and people having smartphones had become savvy booking cabs through the software application on their phones. These Internet-based companies initially doled out goodies to the drivers taken on contract early. Uday was the first lot of the drivers. As he was used to hard work he put in extra time and made huge earnings. This earning would take him years if he had remained as the driver he was previously.

But Uday had to face another set of problems. He was honest as far as women were concerned and always behaved very politely towards his women passengers especially if they were alone. During the early days of app cab driving, he had come across many fellow drivers who were loose and without character as far as treatment towards the fairer sex was concerned.

Uday had heard all about the racket but in one incident he was made a victim of sorts which changed his future course of life.

Late one night Uday was returning after dropping one passenger. For the app cab drivers, the hiring company had doled out bountiful cash for staying up late and driving. Uday is a hard worker that he was usually worked late into the night and made huge earnings. Many of the passengers who used to return home late after partying were more than their normal self. These passengers needed help more than just dropping at the destination. Sometimes they had to be physically helped to reach their homes or to the gates of their society-building due to their inebriated state. This treatment was the same irrespective of sex. The clientele were big corporate ones with respectable positions and the time they needed to be transported was when they were in need of support like an owner gets from a chauffeur. Because these clients were the ones who after a hectic day schedule would indulge themselves a little beyond their comfort zone and needed little more support. The women client were the ones who were vulnerable from the drivers of doubtful integrity.

Uday knew of the rapid deterioration the situation had become for the hapless, unprotected traveler.

On one occasion Uday while returning with his empty vehicle from a relatively lonely region found one cab parked at the side of the road. Uday thinking that the driver must be in need of help so he stopped his cab and alighted. What he saw in the cab made him pale with horror. A woman passenger who looked totally inebriated was lying almost naked in the rear seat and the driver was in the act to violate her. The woman was not in any position to resist. From her appearance, she looked holding some corporate position of responsibility. Uday could not afford to see this violation of a woman without him protesting. He shouted out at the molester to stop or face the consequences. The molester turned his attention now towards Uday and told him to shut up and mind his own business. Uday seeing the situation going out of hand dialed the police. Luckily a police patrol van was nearby which rescued the lady. The molester was booked and arrested. The next day the app cab company was notified of who deregistered the driver. They also put Uday on warning advising caution for not glorifying himself and acting the good samaritan considering the bad optics the company may get and that might affect revenues. But Uday was determined not to bow down under pressure. If needed he would leave the company and work on his own but he would fight for the right of the safety and protection of the women passengers. 

Then within a few days, Uday heard there were a number of cases of women's safety being compromised. Some of the cases were terrible and horrific to be described. 

The situation became so outrageous that the honorable court had to intervene. At the behest of the court, the Police called up all the stakeholders of the app cabs and gave them a proper dressing down. 

Uday was now catapulted into the forefront of this agitation of violence against women. A reputed Women Help Group supported and recognized his tireless honest effort for the cause of women being violated. 

His actions put his hirer on notice and ultimately his contract was canceled. A section of drivers who had vested interests had also gone against Uday. 

Temporarily all this affected Uday. But within this time Uday had made substantial earnings to himself to purchase his own car and use it as a cab. Now he was his own master and did not depend on anyone else for support. Also if one fights for a good cause then adequate support does not remain far behind. Another women's organization had noticed the effort made by Uday to safeguard the woman passenger. So they were very vocal in their support for Uday who was now being made a victim of sorts. All the effort by Uday and other citizens groups for the safety of women was now taking shape. The administration was now concerned about the vulnerability of the woman passenger and had to do a rethink to make changes in the law. 

The lawmakers came out with a slew of changes in the regulations. The app cab hirers had now to meticulously check the antecedents of the drivers before hiring them. They were being recruited with proper documentation and third-party checks being carried out to verify the authenticity of the documents and their place of stay. Promises were made to honor the women passengers and undertake their safety by taking an oath and stickers depicting these slogans were being displayed on the cabs. 

Finally, his well-wishers hailed the tireless efforts of Uday calling him the Driver of Change. 

But Uday's ordeal was far from over. In the real sense, it had just begun. A section of the drivers was having a very skewed and perverted mindset. They wanted to cash in on the lax situation to satisfy their lust and wants. Because they knew that they could easily exploit the hapless and gullible female traveler at odd hours of the night and who would in turn keep quiet to avoid stigma. The situation was very apt for rampant abuse. Uday knew that he was to act as the public sentinel voluntarily. The Police knew him very well as many a time they had complimented him. So they supported him in his often tireless efforts. 

The area around the Big corporate clubs would be the honey spot and the weekends would be the time. Many club members, ladies, traveling singly unaccompanied would require cabs for their homeward journeys. They were the most vulnerable section of the travelers. Drivers of doubtful character were to be sure to be on the prowl. There were other drivers who were not given to exploiting women as such but would use the situation to rob the passenger and extort heavily from them by cheating and use of force. 

So on one such night, Uday was close by to a big club frequented by corporate bigwigs. He had taken a passenger likewise another cab who had taken in a young woman passenger and they were following the same route. Uday dropped his passenger and then found the cab with the woman passenger pass him by. A sixth sense advised him to follow the cab. Maintaining a steady gap he kept following the cab. A little later the cab crossed the city limits and reached a deserted place. There it stopped and seeing this Uday parked his cab at a distance. From a vantage point, he kept a close vigil. No one got down from the car and a little later he saw the driver get down and open the rear door and get in. Uday knew that he must act immediately. When he reached the cab he found that both the passenger and the cab driver were naked and the driver was trying to force himself on the woman while the woman who looked inebriated was trying in vain to protect herself from the demon. Immediately, Uday dialed the help number from his mobile. But by the time help would arrive it would be too late. So Uday took it upon himself to fight for the law. He came from behind and hit the violator with his knuckled hand on the attacker's head. The attacker left his victim and turned towards Uday and shook him off being big and burly. Then quickly the culprit dressed and started the car ignition. Meanwhile, Uday knew that if he didn't get the woman passenger off the car then he would repeat what he had done now, would do at another location. The woman by now had got over her initial dazed state and dressed. Then she heard someone shout at her, 

'' Get out of the cab immediately ''. The cab had by now started to move and picked up speed and before it could take the next road the woman jumped out of the moving car and threw herself out. She fell but luckily she fell on Uday and so got saved from getting hurt. The cab driver immediately stopped and took a photo of the woman lying flat over Uday's body. Uday immediately threw the woman off him and hurriedly took out his mobile and photographed the cab number. So Uday knew that if the other driver tried to play dirty and do blackmailing stuff he had his defense ready. The police had by now come and recorded the incident's first account from the victim and Uday. The next day the cab driver was nabbed and put under lock-up. Little did Uday know that his mobile video had accidentally turned on and had filmed part of the crime scene being enacted at the rear seat of the car. So the driver's photo of Uday and the woman did not establish the truth. Many women organizations felicitated Uday for his courageous act. Then when the case was listed in the court for hearing Uday was called to give his statement as a key witness. The criminal standing at the dock in the other end was glaring menacingly at Uday. To protect the identity of the victim she was being held in a guarded room and not brought in front of the audience. Then all of a sudden there was the sound of gunfire and Uday slumped to the floor with a bullet shot in his body. The shooter before could escape was nabbed and later found to be hired by the cab driver, the criminal. The court was adjourned and Uday was rushed to the hospital. A bullet hole had ruptured his body but luckily it had missed his vital parts. Emergency blood requirement was met by this woman victim as her blood group matched with Uday's. He stayed in the hospital for three weeks and then was discharged. All his cost of treatment was borne by one women's self-help group and the woman he had saved. This woman came to receive Uday on the day he was discharged. She followed Uday all the way to his home. The criminal cab driver and his accomplice were jailed for a good number of years without permission for bail on an attempt to murder charges and rape. 

Then onwards this woman whom Uday had saved became a regular visitor to his house and she and Uday became best of friends slowly. After six months of their friendship, they both decided to marry. Both being indebted to each other. Uday had introduced himself to the woman, known by the name Uma, during his proposal to her as her driver but the woman, Uma had hugged him saying softly in his ear that you are a driver of change. 

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