Autos gang up against commuters, journalist

On day 36 of MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign, a mob of drivers tried threatening travellers who complained about their refusal and one of the reporters covering the campaign

Place: Borivli Station (E)
Time: 10 am-12 pm
Offenders caught: 6
Commuters speak
Mira Shelar said, "The rickshaw drivers are only interested in plying long distance fares. Just last week, I got into an argument with one of them, who refused to ply me giving the excuse of a half-down meter, but readily took a passenger who wanted to go to a far off destination."

Priyash Manjerekar said, "If you argue with an auto driver, several of them unite and they start abusing you. My family has now asked me to stay away from fights, as they are scared that these drivers may turn violent and assault me."

Prabhodini Pathak said, "The moment you step out of the station, these drivers come running towards you. But the moment you disclose that you have to travel nearby, they snub you."

I don't care: An arrogant driver tries bullying a traffic constable.
Pic/ Sayed Sameer Abedi

Auto drivers speak
Shamim Khan: "At present, my house is being renovated and I have to be around. I was in a hurry to reach home, hence I refused the passenger."

Suresh Palatwar: "My meter is half-down, so I can not be booked for refusal."

Spot of bother
A group of around 15 rickshaw drivers got together and created a ruckus. The mob demanded that MiD DAY shifts its campaign to other parts of Mumbai. However, when the reporter told that it wasn't possible, the mob got infuriated.

Vishnu Chakor, an agitated rickshaw driver, said, "Nowadays, there is corruption in all walks of life. First catch hold of the big players, and then target the innocent rickshaw drivers."

Sadanand Patil, secretary of Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union, who was a part of the mob, said, "Stop booking rickshaw drivers for refusal, as paying fine for the offence burns a hole in the pockets of these poor drivers."

When the reporter reminded him that if the drivers agreed to ply short distance fares, they would no longer have to pay fine for refusals and in the process, save their day's wage, Patil was left dumbfounded and ordered the mob to disperse.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

Place: Caf � Vrindavan, Sion
Time: 10 am-11.30 am
Offenders caught:  5
Commuters speak
Sajida Tahir Kondkri, a PMG Colony resident, said, "Auto drivers are giving us headaches by refusing to
ply to short distances. Irrespective of the emergency, none of the drivers are ready to ferry short distance fares."

Despite noticing that Chandrakant Khade was physically challenged, he was refused by three drivers in a row. "I am not a regular commuter, but whenever I have to go meet my lawyer at BKC, I face refusals. Often, I have to wait for almost an hour before a driver agrees to ferry me."

That's for refusing to ply: A traffic constable penalises a driver for
snubbing a short distance fare. pic/Datta Kumbhar

Auto drivers speak
Sharad Dattaram Kadam: "Since I wasn't interested in plying a short distance fare, I refused to go to BKC. Even if I go there, I'll be returning empty, which is a loss for me."

Mohammad Atik Khan accused the on-duty traffic constables for deliberately apprehending him. "Why would I refuse any passenger? They are my bread and butter. Cops have caught me despite agreeing to ply the passengers."

Spot of bother
A couple of auto drivers were caught for driving without licence and adequate documents. All they managed to produce was a licence renewal slip.

Traffic constable S Mane said, "Both the drivers were driving without licence and documents." He then confiscated their vehicles.

Text: Vishakha Sonawane

Place: Santacruz Station (West)
Time: 9.30 am-11.30 am
Offenders caught:  7
Commuters speak
Sonamali Gadekar said, "I wanted to go to SNDT College, but the driver refused to ferry me. Instead, he took another passenger, which I presume was a long distance fare."

Trilok Chand Nayak said, "I am in hurry to get to Khira Nagar, but none of the drivers are interested in plying me."

Cornered: A rogue auto drive being reprimanded by a traffic cop.
PIC/Satyajit Desai

Auto drivers speak
Brijkishor Nishad: "I saw the other passenger first, so I went ahead to ply him. I never refused a fare to anyone."

Anand Hari Mohan: "I am very sorry for refusing the passenger. I swear by god, I'll never do it again."

Mahindra Yadav: "I was looking for a fare in the opposite direction. Hence I had to say no to the passenger."

Text: Mukul Pawar

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