Bricks fly as taxi strike in Mumbai turns ugly

The mob shouted abuses at the driver, argued with him and even flung a brick at the car while the passenger was still inside; the driver kept calm throughout, managed to steer away and lodge a police complaint

The strike called by black-and-yellow taxi drivers took a violent turn yesterday, after an Uber cab ferrying a passenger, was attacked and vandalised by a mob.

Manuel D’Souza has been driving for Uber for the past three months. He kept calm through the attack and took the passenger to his destination safely
Manuel D’Souza has been driving for Uber for the past three months. He kept calm through the attack and took the passenger to his destination safely

Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, and the cabbie kept his cool, dropped the passenger to his destination and then reported the crime to the police. The strike had been called in protest against radio cab services such as Uber and Ola, which have increased competition for the black-and-yellow taxis.

Black-and-yellow taxi strike: Mumbaikars turn to trains, buses, radio cabs and car-pooling

The mob threw a brick that broke the window and landed on the back seat, inches away from the passenger, Nitin Sharma
The mob threw a brick that broke the window and landed on the back seat, inches away from the passenger, Nitin Sharma (inset)

The 10,000 drivers who went on strike yesterday were in fact calling for a ban on such services. The mob attack took place at 9.30 am last morning, as Uber driver Manuel D’Souza (42) was ferrying his passenger Nitin Sharma to his Lower Parel office.

D’Souza picked up the passenger from the Juhu circle and took the Bandra-Worli sea link, after which the cab was intercepted by a throng of 20-25 people near the Four Seasons hotel at Prabhadevi. D’Souza, who has been driving for Uber for the past three months, suspects that the crowd was composed of taxi drivers or union members.

“As soon as they stopped the vehicle they asked for my details. I told them that the car was a personal tourist vehicle, when they noticed the Uber device (used to keep track of the journey and charges) and asked me to park the vehicle and hand it over. I told them that it was a personal property and I couldn’t give it away.

That’s when they got violent and tried to snatch the keys of the cab,” he recalled. The mob then got aggressive and started abusing the driver. When the passenger, Sharma, tried to intervene and requested them to let the vehicle pass, they hurled a cement brick towards the car while he was still inside. The brick broke the side window and landed just a few inches away from Sharma.

“The brick was thrown while I was still sitting on the back seat. Thankfully I didn’t get hurt. We kept requesting them to let us pass but they were not ready to listen. The entire incident was shocking and disturbing,” said Sharma, who works as a venture capitalist at a well-known organisation at Lower Parel.

Calm and cool
Even as the mob continued to shout abuses, D’Souza managed to steer away from them and escape the spot. Despite the shock of the incident and the heavy damages to his car, he chose to first drop his passenger off safely and then take the legal recourse.

“The customer was with me the whole time, so I dropped him first and then went to Worli police station to file a complaint regarding the incident. After giving them all the information, I went to my mechanic for repairs,” said D’souza, who lives at Mira road.

Also Read: Black-and-yellow cabs want to take on Uber, Ola with own mobile app

It cost him Rs 2,750 just for temporary repairs, which is all he had time for as he had to get back on the road. It will cost him more money and time to fix the damaged window and tail lamp of the car later. “I couldn’t afford to keep my car at the garage because it has to be ready for tomorrow morning. I have only done temporary fixing and will do the permanent repairs later,” added D’souza.

Worli police station filed an FIR against an unidentified individual under Section 427 (Mischief causing damage) of the IPC. When mid-day approached the Worli police asking why the FIR did not mention the mob attack, Senior Police Inspector Vinay Kulkarni said, “I wasn’t aware about the issue.

If it was a mob act and there was verbal abuse involved, many other stringent sections should’ve been applied. If the complainant can come back for the same, I’ll make necessary changes to the FIR.”

‘Union not responsible’
Swabhiman Taxi-Rickshaw Union leader, KK Tiwari said, “The taxi and auto drivers are frustrated and hungry. They can take any step in such a dire state. The union isn’t responsible for any such acts.”

  • Gopalkrishnan02-Sep-2015

    The only way to reign in such rogue kaali peeli taxis

  • unknown02-Sep-2015

    As a passenger my first choice is always black and yellow taxi. however, most of times they do not want to ply to the destination i want. leaves me with no choice but to order uber/ola. Even if now regular cabs stop saying no, business they have lost will come back in some time

  • K. Ganesh Rao03-Sep-2015

    The high handed and goondagiri of Taxi Drivers should be dealt with appropriately by .the law enforcing agency Time is changing new innovations, service,competitive charges ,comfort,are what Mumbai citizens looking for. If some one is providing such facility you can not stop them.from doing business. Instead Auto/Taxi are most rude to customers they take the customers for granted..They should be banned.

  • Vikas02-Sep-2015

    I don't understand, why they are asking to ban radio service based taxis. Even they are in this business for their livelihood. Infact, it the taxi and auto unions which should be banned. They are responsible for all these strikes and all. If these kaali peeli taxis/auto drivers are really concerned about their livelihood, they should have some politeness while talking to their customers and they shouldn't refuse passengers. They also need traffic ettiqutes. The strike makes no sense at all.

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