A TAXI driver feared for his safety as racist thugs grabbed him through the partition they had smashed and subjected him to a torrent of abuse.
A gang of five men racially abused Sufyan Rao, 33, of Kettering, and caused about £700 of damage to his taxi in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Mr Rao said: “I was saying to the police down the phone: ‘He is holding my shirt’.
“If I hadn’t been on the phone they would have hurt me.
“I’ve got female drivers and I’m worried for their safety.”
The abuse started as soon as Mr Rao, who works for A123 Cars, picked them up from Horsemarket in Kettering at about 2.45am.
The men began imitating his accent, insulting him and saying he was greedy.
Following standard procedure for a 12-mile journey to Market Harborough, Mr Rao asked for the £40 fare up front. The men gave him £30, reassuring him they would give him the rest on the way.
They became increasingly angry as he asked for the money on the way. They began to spread the kebabs they had been eating all over the floor.
The men paid after Mr Rao stopped the cab on the A6, but began plotting to damage his car when he stopped so Mr Rao said he was going to turn the taxi around and take them to the police in Kettering.
One of the men then began kicking the partition before reaching through Mr Rao, who called the police. He said: “For it to break takes some serious effort.”
The thugs also destroyed a head rest and ripped the upholstery.
On police advice he drove on to Market Harborough and reported the incident to officers.
Mr Rao said about 40 per cent of customers on Friday and Saturday nights racially abuse him.
He said: “If I complained I’d be complaining every weekend.”
A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: “It is being treated as racially aggravated damage and inquiries are ongoing.”