'I should have the freedom of choosing my fare'

On day 18 of MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign, a group of 50 auto drivers from a particular union created a ruckus at Mulund, argued with the traffic cops and almost roughed up the journalists present

Place: Ghatkopar (East)
Time: 10am-12pm and 5pm-7pm
Offenders Caught: 7
CommuterS Speak:
Jorg D'souza, who was going to Shopper's Stop, said, "I approached the rickshaw driver only after the passengers who were inside alighted. However, even then the driver was acting pricey and snubbed me. Though we suffer, unlike them, we can't go on a strike."

Siddhi Kerker, who was refused a fare for Mankhurd, said, "Since trains are crowded during peak hours, I prefer travelling via rickshaw. However, the drivers refuse quite often. With so many refusals, how can a common man travel in this city?"

Cornered: A traffic constable fines an errant auto driver for refusing to
ply. PIC/pradeep dhivar

Auto Drivers Speak:
Imran Khan: "The traffic cops were standing when I dropped the passengers. However, the other passenger approached me to ferry him to Shopper's Stop. I panicked, because I was afraid that the cops would fine me for taking passenger out of the queue. Hence I refused."

Karta Prasad Yadav: "I was looking for a short distance fare. Getting a return fare from Mankhurd is impossible, so I refused. However, the passenger and the officials don't understand our problem."
Text: Faisal G Tandel

Place: Nirmal Lifestyle, Mulund
Time: 10.30am-12.30pm and 5.30pm-6.30pm
Offenders Caught: 10
Commuter Speak:
Nikhil and Natasha said, "We came here after watching a movie and wanted to go to Nahur station, but the driver refused to ply. On several occasions, we find it difficult to get an auto for Nahur railway station."

Auto Driver Speaks:
Bhimrao Metkar: "Since I'm driving, I should have the freedom of choosing my fare.  I refused the lady a ride to Saki Naka, because that route has often inconvenienced me."

Spot of bother:
At around 6 pm, nearly 50 drivers, claiming to be a part of an auto union, started arguing with the traffic cops and the journalist at Mulund. They were ready to manhandle the journalists. After the incident, Auto Union leader Suryakant Deshmane, reached the spot and spoke to the cops and the journalists.
He said, "During peak hours, several people approach a driver at the same time. However, the driver can ferry only one. Under such circumstances, how can the police levy fines for refusals?"
Commenting on the issue, Traffic Constable Pandurang More said, "This is a legitimate action and if the drivers have any problem, then they must stop refusing the passengers."

Text: Mukul Pawar

Place: Santacruz Station (E)
Time: 9am-11am and 5pm-7pm
Offenders caught: 7
Commuters speak:
Nirupam Anand  said, "Generally, there are not many refusals at the station as there is a rickshaw stand. However, during peak hours, there are so many people, that I end up waiting for at least 15 minutes everyday before I get an auto."

Atul Sakpal said, "These drivers never ply to nearby distances. Hence, I trick them by telling that I have to go far, and alight halfway at my destination."

Auto Drivers Speak:
Mahesh Das: "I was parking my rickshaw and suddenly, a horde of people approached me. Since I can't ply everybody at one go, I put my meter half-down. However, the cops assumed that I was refusing to ply.
Text: Dazy Verma

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