Auto drivers halt work over parking spat with police
Auto drivers at Pune railway station halted work from 7 am to 9 am yesterday, after a Railway Police Force (RPF) constable got into a fierce argument with some auto rickshaw drivers who had parked their vehicles in a no-parking zone. In support of their fellow men, the other drivers staged a protest by refusing to ferry any passengers for two hours.
No place to park: The prepaid autorickshaw stand at Pune station has just one lane due to which, autos crowd the station premises, forcing the police to take action against them. Pic/Mohan Patil
Rickshaw drivers claimed the disagreement turned ugly and the constable vented his ire by assaulting the drivers, breaking 4-5 auto glasses and also fining them Rs 500 each. The protest hit commuters badly since major trains like Howrah Express, Patna Express, and Duronto Express, had made their stops at the station. The travellers were left stranded and had to arrange for alternate transport.
The prepaid autorickshaw stand outside Pune railway station can accommodate only 200 autos at a time. Of the stand’s four lanes, only one lane is designated for autos and cabs. Due to this, autos crowd the station premises, which then force the police to take action against them.
“During morning rush hours, a number of autorickshaws make a beeline outside the station to pick up passengers. Taking advantage of this, the RPF constable began behaving rudely with them and also hit their rickshaw glasses with his stick,” said Pune station’s Auto Rickshaw Union president, Suresh Jagtap.
“If our drivers are at fault, then only they should be fined, but they cannot beat us and damage our autos. Moreover, some of the drivers were taken to the RPF police station unnecessarily and were made to sit there for the entire day. At the end, some were fined Rs 500, and only after the fine was paid, they were released,” Jagtap added.
The number of auto rickshaws that the Pune station stand can accommodate at a time
RPF police inspector, Pune Railway station, D S Rajput, dismissed the allegation that his men had damaged any autos or assaulted any rickshaw drivers in the incident that took place yesterday. Speaking to mid-day, Rajput said, “We are doing our duty and none of our staff has damaged any autos. The autos stall traffic at the main gate of the station. Because we took action against them, they are complaining about us.”