Kochi: When the world was celebrating the achievements of women, a female passenger was rudely reminded of the realities of living in a man's world. Neetu Joseph (37), a resident of Alangad, was physically assaulted by an auto driver in Aluva after she refused to pay him the excess fare he demanded. Neetu was admitted to the Aluva district hospital with severe injuries to her jaw and face. The accused autorickshaw driver Latheef of Kuttamassery, Kuzhippallal, is absconding.
According to cops, the incident happened at 3 pm on Thursday. Neethu hired the auto from Aluva bypass junction to go to Aluva railway station, where she had parked her scooter. "She was coming from Thrissur. The driver asked for Rs 40 but she had only Rs 35 as change. She then gave a Rs 500 note when the driver insisted on getting Rs 40. However, he didn't have change to give the balance. He took the woman passenger to a petrol pump in his auto to get the change. He then returned only Rs 450 instead of Rs 460. When Neetu questioned this, an altercation broke out between them," police said.
Latheef then took her to a nearby school and beat her on her face. She tried to jump off the vehicle but he held her firm. Finally she escaped by biting his hand. She called her friend on mobile and they went to the Aluva police station to lodge the complaint. The accused Latheef later came to the district hospital seeking treatment to injury caused by her bite. But he fled when he saw police and the victim there. "His mobile has been switched off. A hunt is on to nab him. A case has been lodged with charges under sections 354 (sexual harassment), 325 (causing hurt) and 294 B (use of obscene words)," police said.