Dandiya revellers, don't bank on autos

The nine nights of Navratri begin tonight and for all those who were getting ready to go for dandiya, be sure to have your own vehicle as there is a possibility of rickshaw drivers going on a flash strike from tonight.

The auto strike could play spoilsport, as explained by dandiya fan Yamini Jha. "I go to Goregaon by rickshaw every day of Navratri to dance to Falguni Pathak's tunes. My husband comes home from work late and joins us directly. But if rickshaws go on strike, we will be compelled to wait for him. Echoing the same sentiments, Dharam Mathur (50) said, "I travel by rickshaw from Bhandup to Somaiya Grounds for dandiya. If there is a rickshaw strike, I am not sure I'll be able to go with my wife and son." And even organisers of dandiya will suffer.

"Since we end the program by 10 pm, those who travel by autos can travel by trains," said Devendra Joshi, organiser, of Sankalp at Goregaon Sports Club ground.

Protest on october 3
Shashank Rao, member of the Mumbai auto rickshaw men's union said, "We will have a peaceful protest on October 3, with over 5,000 rickshaw drivers fasting from 10 am to 5 pm outside the Transport Commissioner's office in Bandra to protest against the atrocities committed by the RTO officials. We have decided not to go on strike till after Diwali. Rickshaw drivers are being portrayed as cheats when we are the poor people who have to live from hand to mouth owing to the paltry amounts we earn."

Voices: Drivers complain
Owing to the crackdown on the meters, the daily earning of my husband has reduced to Rs 150 from Rs 300. Unable to pay the school fees for my children we were forced to take them out. The money my husband earns does not suffice when I go to buy groceries. How am I to satisfy my children's needs?
� Manjulata Gupta, wife of auto rickshaw driver

I came to stay with my husband as my four-year-old and one-year-old daughters were missing their father. But it is so expensive in Mumbai, I am thinking of going back to the village as it will economically more feasible.
� Rajvanti Verma, wife of rickshaw driver

If the union calls a strike or thugs force us off the roads we have to comply. Our families live from hand to mouth and the strikes worsens our situations.
� Hari Om Gupta, rickshaw driver

Festivals are coming up and we have no savings. Our wives and children want new things but they cannot ask us as they know our plight.
� Shyam Mishra, rickshaw driver

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