BHOPAL: Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan swapped his official SUV for an autorickshaw ride to his home on Thursday, but the star was in the driver’s seat – Bhopal’s first woman auto-wali, Talat Jahan.
Five more will women auto drivers will join Talat Jahan by the end of the month, giving Bhopal its first such ‘pink fleet’. CM Chouhan flagged off Talat’s auto on International Women’s Day and hopped in for a ride.
“Life is back in gear,” said Jahan, a survivor of dowry abuse and domestic violence. “When I enrolled for the training, my parents were not happy with the idea but I wanted to do something by myself. I wanted to be financially independent. Also, I am concerned by the rise in crimes against women and wanted to do my bit for women safety. Today, when I drove the auto for the first time from to the CM’s house, I was on cloud nine,” added Jahan.
Jahan was trained by Gaurvi Action Aid Foundation. It wasn’t easy to get in the driver’s seat, she said. “My brother is still not convinced. But today, after I was blessed by the CM, I know my brother will also agree. I am happy to be independent. I suffered a lot, but I never gave up. My mother stood by my side and always encouraged me,” she said.
Women auto fleet to roll by March-end
Gaurvi Action Aid coordinator Shivani Saini said, “In 2016 we were looking for avenues where survivors could be trained in different skills to provide for themselves. Resource persons from Piaggio suggested we start training women to drive autos. Ten women were immediately on board. Today, we have eight women drivers but are short of autos. We know we will buy those soon.”
“Due to RTO rules, we had to wait till 2018 for women auto drivers to get commercial licence. All eight of them will be driving on the road by end-March and women in the city will feel safer,” Saini added.