Taxi drivers at the domestic airport allegedly beat up a traffic policeman after a dispute about parking.
Witnesses said the incident happened at 10 pm when Assistant Police Inspector Suryakant Salvi from the traffic division at Vakola, asked Cool Cab driver Rakesh Singh to park his car in queue.
As Singh was moving his cab, Salvi abused him, leading to an argument after Singh objected to the language used. “That’s when the policeman (Salvi) slapped him,” said a taxi driver claiming to have seen all this.
“Singh assaulted me and was joined by other taxi men,” Salvi said.
The taxi drivers said it is routine for policemen to abuse and assault them for little or no reason. “They [police] think just because we’re drivers, they can abuse and slap us,” said taxi driver Salim Khan.
Khan said most of the police harassment is directed at extorting money. “They harass us to the point where we don’t have a choice — we just pay up,” said another taxi driver, requesting anonymity.
Police claimed Salvi was not at fault and was assaulted simply for doing his duty.
“The taxi men not only abused Salvi when he objected to their improper parking, they also assaulted him. He had to be rushed to hospital,” said Assistant Police Inspector Anil Desai of the airport police station. Salvi was discharged after treatment.
Singh was arrested on Wednesday morning, seven other taxi men named as accused are untraceable.