100 autos nabbed for refusing fare

After holding the city to ransom and making absurd demands, autorickshaw drivers went back to their fleecing ways on the streets of Mumbai. On day 1 of MiD DAY's meter down campaign, we caught 100 errant autos in four prime locations across the city

Andheri station (E) and Western Express Highway
Time: 9-11am, 5-6.30pm
Drivers caught and licences confiscated:41
Commuters speak:
Neelambari Jadhav, who works in a gem assortment company, said, "I am tired of indefinitely waiting every morning for a rickshaw to ply me to my destination. They are not interested in travelling shorter distances, as it wouldn't fetch them much."

Forgive me for i have sinned: Auto drivers offered the flimsiest of
excuses for refusing passengers when they were caught by traffic constables

Pushkar Dehadray, who works in a shipment company, said, "Every morning we have to wait for nearly 30 minutes for rickshaws and even after that they argue with us. They come up with a number of excuses to validate their behaviour."

Goon factor: A local goon threatened the cops for fining the erring autos

Auto drivers speak:
Rajkumar Sharma: "I wanted to go to the bathroom urgently and therefore refused to ferry the passenger."

Ismail Ansari: "I want to go to Andheri (West), whereas the passenger wanted to go to a location in Andheri (East). Hence I refused to ferry him."

Sunil Harijan: "I have a headache and am going back to my house in Bhandup."

Spot of bother
Rickshaw drivers Rajbahadur Yadav and Shivlochan Yadav teamed up with a local goon Kapil Patel and threatened the cops and MiD DAY's team with dire consequences. They also threatened the Senior Police Inspector of the Airport traffic chowky Shivaji Tatalapurkar. Patel was using the name of Shiv Sena corporator Ramesh Latke to threaten the officials.

However, when MiD DAY contacted Latke, he said, "I don't know this person who has been taking my name. I don't have any problem with this campaign, which is being done for the benefit of the people".

Patel was later booked under section 110 of IPC.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar,
Pics: Mahesh Chafe, Pradeep Dhivar

Location: Nehru Nagar, Kurla, Tembli bridge
Time: 10-11:45am, 5-7pm
Drivers caught and licences confiscated: 6
Commuters Speak:
Prasad Karvate, a commuter was refused fare till Vikhroli by three drivers as he was under the influence of alcohol. "None of them were ready to ply. I may have been drunk, but a passenger who has the money to pay for the fare has a right to be transported."

Anita Parit, a commuter who was refused a short distance fare till Kamgar Nagar, said, "It's a daily routine to find rickshaw drivers refusing to ply short distances; but they are willing to accommodate those going long distances."

Sulochana Shinde, another commuter, said, "Whenever we approach the rickshaw drivers to take us till Chunabatti, they refuse us on grounds of traffic congestion near Suman Nagar."

On a high: This auto driver refused to ply as he felt the passenger was
drunk and would not pay the fare on reaching the destination

Auto drivers speak:
Suresh Khandekar, rickshaw driver said, "Like any individual we too start our day to earn good money and feed our family. The trip to Vikhroli would have fetched a good sum, but the passenger was drunk and there could have been chances of him not paying the amount after reaching the destination."

Mohammed Hanif, rickshaw driver decided to ferry a senior citizen instead of a youngster to the same destination. He said, "I avoid plying longer distances due to traffic snarls. In this case, both passengers � an elderly lady and another young girl � wanted to go to the same area, but I gave the senior lady the preference".

Bhagwan Salunkhe, rickshaw driver said, "She had to go to Chunabatti that goes via Suman Nagar which is usually congested. We also have to think about the road condition, so that we can get another fare easily."  

Text: Faisal G Tandel,
Pics: Atul Kamble

Location: Ghatkopar station (W)
Time: 9-11am, 5-7pm
Drivers caught and licenses confiscated: 30
Commuters speak:
N Sakanya, a naval officer, said, "Rickshaw drivers should repair their meters instead of offering silly excuses to commuters. My wife, who was ill, was refused on the grounds that people are following a queue. But when a passenger asked him to go to Goregaon, he conveniently skipped the line."

Pragati Sharma, an employee at a private firm at MIDC, said, "The buses are always crowded and so my colleagues and I take share-rickshaws from the station. The rickshaw stand is barely operating and drivers always refuse to go by the meter."

Money talks: A commuter, N Sakanya, was livid when autos broke the
queue to ferry long-distance fares

Auto drivers speak:
Lal Bahadur Saroj, a rickshaw driver who was booked for taking passengers out of the stand, said, "I was not aware of the rickshaw stand in Ghatkopar as my vehicle belongs to Vashi. Now I will have to run around to get my license back."

Sardar Shaikh, another rickshaw driver booked for a similar offence, said, "The passengers said they were in a hurry and agreed to pay me more than the fare. But then the traffic cop caught me."

Masudin Ansari, booked for parking in a no parking area, said, "The passenger did not have change and so I stopped near a shop to get the money. The traffic constable fined me Rs 100 for it."

Ashok Karab, caught for plying without a badge, said, "I left in a hurry and forgot my badge. I had to pay Rs 300 for it."

Spot of bother:
Rude behaviour by rickshaw drivers is the norm in Ghatkopar (W). The auto driver refused Kishore Anand, a passenger on his way to Saki Naka. Though a constable on duty helped Anand board the rickshaw, the arrogant driver forced Anand to alight mid-way. The driver told me, "Do what you want I will not go to Saki Naka. I have to go elsewhere". Anand added, "It is totally unacceptable if the driver leaves us in the lurch half way. Luckily, I was close by, so I came back."

Text: Maleeva Rebello,
Pics: Datta Kumbhar, Sayed Sameer Abedi

Location: Outside Family Court, Bandra (E)
Time: 9-11am, 5-7pm 
Drivers caught and licenCes confiscated: 23
Commuters speak:
Ashish Jain said, "Getting a rickshaw is easy from selective places and only during day time. None of them agree to ply during evening hours when we are rushing home."

Savita Sharma said, "The rickshaw drivers continue to harass passengers and extort more money even though they have been promised a hike of 50 paise."

Jaane do saheb: Another hotspot for fleecing autos is outside Bandra
court, where commuters queue up to go to BKC and Kurla

Auto drivers Speak:
Ramvilas Verma driver who wanted more money than the fare, said, "I am ready to ply, but only if you pay me extra as I don't get passengers on my way back home."

Mohammed Shaikh an auto driver refusing fares, said, "I generally don't ply from this area, and don't know the way."

Common excuses
> They wanted to go home for urgent work
> The meter had some problem
> The rickshaw has no gas or needs repairs
Text: Dazy Verma,
Pics: Sayed Sameer Abedi

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