The 11-year-old girl who was dragged out of a BEST bus by the conductor on Govandi flyover after she failed to produce change for a Rs3 ticket had a similar experience with another conductor a month ago.
“Then too, I was asked to get out of the bus because I did not have change. My friend who was travelling with me had to pay so that I could stay on,” said Zainab Ayesha Ansari, a sixth grade student of Chembur Karnatak High School.
She was on her way back home from school when the incident occurred.
“I take bus number 383 from outside my school to my home in Shivaji Nagar, Chembur, in the evenings. On Tuesday, I gave the conductor a Rs10 note for the Rs3 ticket as I did not have change, but he asked me to get off the bus. I protested saying I would not get out in the middle of the road, but he grabbed me by the hand, asked the driver to stop the bus, and pushed me out,” said a tearful Zainab.
“He did not even drop me at a bus stop. I was in tears and felt helpless,” she said.
Zainab walked for about 15 minutes until she reached Gautam Nagar where a passer-by noticed her crying. She narrated the incident to the stranger, who then telephoned her mother, Shabana Ansari, a counsellor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
“I got extremely worried after receiving the call. She was sobbing over the phone and I did know what to do. I immediately asked my brother to bring her home,” said Ansari.
Ansari says that she visited the Deonar police station with her daughter to file a complaint, but was asked to go to the Shivaji Nagar bus depot.
“The watchman at the depot asked us to leave saying that we did not have enough details to file a complaint. When we insisted, he threatened to call the police and have us thrown out,” said Ansari.
An undeterred Ansari entered the depot's office through another entrance and met an officer who advised her to fill a complaint form.
“I lost my husband and have been a single parent for 10 years. I have learnt to take care of myself and I want my daughter to learn the same.
“Being insistent on filing the complaint was my way of telling her that we should learn to stand up for ourselves,” said Ansari.
She said that Zainab was petrified and felt better only after she had filed the complaint. “It reassured her that an incident like this would not happen to her again,” said Shabana.