Haroon Paryani came to the US in 1971 to attend college. He dropped out after one semester and started working to support his family back home. At some point, roughly 20 years ago, he started to drive a cab in Chicago. He brought his family from Karachi over as well. On Feb 5, 2005, a fare dispute cost him his life when the passenger dragged him out of his cab and ran him over repeatedly. He left behind a wife and three children, ranging in age from 16 to 33. The suspect, a City employee, turned himself in this morning.
Two of my best friends drove cabs in Chicago and I used to worry about them constantly. One still does in NYC. The cab-drivers in Chicago are a persecuted lot. They don’t get along with the city which constantly raises their taxes and forces them to go into high-risk areas. They repeatedly get stiffed by customers who know that they are helpless against them. Chicago is a highly segregated city which makes no efforts to hide its blatant racism. Cab drivers hail, usually, from Indo-Pak-Bangla or Kenya-Ethiopia-Somalia regions. The two groups often vie with each other for permits and accuse the other of hot-dogging. The desi cab drivers tend to stay on the “safer” North side [this crime happened in that safe area] which is largely white and affluent. Everyone tries to stay away from the dreaded South side – though Hyde Park is leading a revival nowadays. But the crimes against cab-drivers, tend to happen more often as not in the affluent cityscapes by drunk and disorderly party-people on weekend nights. Everything from verbal abuse to puking to stiffing on the fare to hurling things on the cab to beating the cabbie down. Your standard daytime upright citizens.
There are more elaborate sting operations as well. A typical one is what happened to Aamir. A guy gets into the cab and asks to be taken to a non-descript location. Two minutes later, he says, Oh, can we do a detour and pick my friend up? After the friend is in the car and they reach the location, they both gang up on the cab driver and take his money, wallet etc. Others happen when a “damsel-in-distress” climbs in with her “abuser” chasing. And she needs some money right now as well as a long ride into the suburbs. There is very little one can do to protect against such crime. Mostly, it comes down to instincts. And those can often be wrong
I wish Haroon Paryani could be with his family. May he rest in peace and may god bless his soul.