23-year-old girl travelling alone in auto harassed by bikers

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23-year-old girl travelling alone in auto harassed by bikers in Mumbai

Less than a week after a TV actor and her friend were assaulted by three men who snatched their purse as a crowd of 10-15 people looked on in Oshiwara, a 23-year-old fashion stylist travelling alone in an autorickshaw was harassed by two men on a bike in Malad on Saturday evening.

The girl had to face a barrage of lewd comments from the bikers who rode parallel to the rickshaw she was travelling in for a few minutes and even abused the rickshaw-driver when he asked them to back off. At one point, they held on to the rickshaw in a threatening manner. They rode away only after the auto-driver deliberately slowed down his vehicle.

A picture of them holding on to the auto, clicked by the girl and uploaded by her friend, an assistant director in Bollywood, has gone viral on social networking sites and drawn strong reactions. Two girls have also got in touch with the assistant director saying they, too, had been harassed by the same bikers earlier in the same suburb.

The fashion stylist decided not to lodge a police complaint fearing a backlash. "I've read newspaper reports recently where a TV actor, Loveleen Kaur, was assaulted by a thief, and none of the bystanders came to her aid," the girl, who wants to stay unnamed, told ToI.

The girl said she was commuting from her Malad residence to a mall in Oshiwara via the Link Road at around 5.30 pm on Saturday. She had reached the back road off the Link Road, a desolate stretch adjacent to the creek, when the biker duo turned up. "They let a few cars pass by and kept riding parallel to my auto in a zig-zag manner. They whistled and winked at me and called out names. One of them was wearing a BMC uniform," she said.

The back road was deserted on Saturday. "I was wearing my headphones, and it all happened too fast for me to register. They rode in a rash manner, passing comments and laughing. I think they were trying to stop the auto. At one point, the auto driver asked them to back off and ride properly. They then abused him and dared him to fight them. As they started to hold on to the auto, I grew nervous. I somehow managed to click a picture of them on my mobile phone," she said.

Looking out of the auto, the stylist noticed a group of bikers standing further ahead on the road and assumed they were friends of the duo. "I did not want to create a scene as I realised the bikers had support. The auto-driver looked like he wanted to fight them, but fortunately he slowed down and the bikers sped off," she said.

The photograph of the bikers has been shared more than 880 times on social networking sites. A few netizens have also set up a blog where they have copied the photo and invited others who have been similarly harassed to share their stories.

The stylist's assistant-director friend said, "After we posted the photo online, two other girls contacted us and said they had been harassed by the same bikers at Malad. We believe these men are serial offenders. The back road at Malad has always been unsafe for commuting, especially after dusk, and needs to be patrolled by the police."