I make three trips every month to Silvassa, where I own an electrical instruments factory. On the trip there, I have to cross three toll nakas on National Highway 8. The second toll naka charges Rs 47.
Almost every time that I have crossed that toll naka, I have paid them Rs 3 extra because the staff always claim they don’t have change.
I have driven to Silvassa and back several times over the last six years, but the issue over change started just over six months ago, and every motorist faces the problem.
Those driving through the toll naka are either going for some work or returning home and they avoid getting into arguments, preferring instead to forego the change. Hundreds of vehicles cross the toll naka every day and the Rs 3 that the staff refuse to return to each of them adds up to a lot of money.
On Wednesday, when my father Vasantrai Gohil was accompanying me to Silvassa, he refused to give in to their tricks and demanded his money back. It wasn’t just a question of Rs 3. The fact that they shortchange every motorist incensed him. He was adamant that he would not leave until they gave him the change.
The small tiff took an ugly turn after my father refused to pay up.
I thought the matter had ended there, but when I saw the men getting out of the mini bus around eight kilometers ahead after following us, I was scared as I knew they were looking for trouble.
The men started thumping on the car windows. At first, I did not want to get out as I knew they would thrash us. But the men threatened to break the windows if we did not step out.
When we stepped out, they started pushing us and then hit us with iron rods. I was hit on the eye, which is still smarting.
They did not spare my father and pushed him roughly. As he fell, one of them hit him with an iron rod. My father was thrashed so badly that he sustained a hip fracture and had to be operated upon.
It was a nightmare, but we will make sure the culprits are punished.
As told to Little Yadav