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'Autos have the licence to refuse'

On day 78 of MiD DAY's Meter Down Campaign, an errant auto driver caught for refusing fare got into a heated argument with the traffic constable; even abused the passenger who complained against him

Place: Borivli Station (E)
Time: 10 am-11.30 am and 5.45 pm-7.15 pm
Offenders caught: 7
Commuters speak
Anudeep Mehra said, "It's been over 30 minutes, since I just got off an out-station train after a long and a tiring journey. However, I'm yet to find an auto that is ready to ply me. Most of the drivers either refuse or demand extra for the luggage."

Ankita Kulkarni said, "I'm travelling with my aged mother, who has difficulty in walking. Despite seeing an old lady travelling with me, none of the arrogant auto drivers agreed to ply us. So far, we have been snubbed by at least five auto drivers."

Samira Pimple said, "After a tiring day at work, all we want to do is reach home early. This is where these opportunist auto drivers exploit the poor passengers. Since they are in demand during rush hours, the drivers choose passengers as per their convenience. Almost all of them prefer plying long distance fares."


I can explain: An auto driver tries to reason with a traffic cop after his
licence was confiscated for refusing a fare. Pic/Rane Ashish


Auto drivers speak
Sohan Pal: "How can you book me for refusal if I don't even remember when did I refuse the passenger?"

Sandeep Shukla: "It's foolish to ply fares via Western Express Highway during peak hours, as the highway is jam-packed with vehicles. Hence I said no to the passenger."

Salauddin Khan: "Rickshaw drivers can choose a long distance fare over a short distance. After all, just like the passengers, even we have mouths to feed."

Spot of bother
On being caught for refusing to ply a short distance fare, auto driver K Syed, said, "A fellow driver just informed me that my father-in-law has been admitted to the hospital and I was in a hurry to be there. Hence I refused the fare."

However, when the on-duty traffic constables asked about the details of the hospital, such as its location, etc, Syed had no answers. After his lie was busted, the officers confiscated his licence.

Hoping that the cops would give back his licence, Syed created a ruckus and attracted passers-by. He said, "Yes, I refused to ply the passenger. But no one is ready to hear our side of the story. Most of the time, commuters only pay us Rs 10, stating that they don't have change. Hence I've decided not to ply fares with minimum tariffs."

Hearing Syed's lame excuses, one of the traffic constables said, "It's not that all the passengers refuse to pay that one rupee. So do not generalise. Also, what about the days when the minimum fare was Rs 9 and the auto drivers pocketed that extra buck instead of returning it? So stop giving silly excuses."

When auto driver Ramchandra Yadav's licence was confiscated for refusing to ferry a short distance fare, the arrogant driver who had initially refused to produce it, snatched it away from Head Constable Babulal Chure's hands.

He even hurled abuses at the passenger who had complained against him. Thereafter, Yadav was taken to the nearest traffic police station and was booked for refusal and misbehaving with an on-duty public servant.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

Place: Mankhurd Station (West)
Time: 9.15 am-11.15 am
Offenders caught: 3
Commuters speak
Kejal Shrinivas said, "Wasting a minimum of 30 minutes to find an auto has become a routine. Thanks to the umpteen refusals, I end up reaching late for my lecture."

Jutal Parth said, "The rickshaw drivers in the area have become a nuisance. They are not even ashamed of refusing elderly passengers like me."

Vitthal Shinde said, "It's been 20 minutes since I've been waiting for an auto to ply me to my residence. Just because it's a short distance fare, none of the drivers are ready to ferry me."

Auto drivers speak
Manjeet Kaurti: "I was about to take my lunch break when the passenger approached me. Hence I had to refuse him."

Anil Kadam: "This is for the first time that I've come to Mankhurd. The destination passenger mentioned is unknown for me. Hence to avoid getting lost, I said no to the passenger."

Kamud Khan: "I'm feeling a little low and want to go home."
 
Text: Anamika More

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