'Is being poor a crime?'

On day six of the campaign, the traffic police fined 35 autorickshaw drivers, who citing various reasons, refused to ply

Place:Bandra-Kurla Complex
Time: 9am-11am and 5pm-7pm
Offenders caught: 11
Commuters speak:
Ulhas Moses said, "I was standing for almost 30 minutes to get a rickshaw. Despite seeing heavy bags on me, none of the rickshaws agreed to ply. Nowadays, its not them, but we who ask them about their choice of

Leela Devi said, "The rickshaw drivers in Bandra East are very arrogant. They ask for Rs 20 per seat on sharing basis from one area to other, which actually comes up to Rs 5 per head, if they go by meter. They use the opportunity to mint money, as a large number of people are dependant on them to get back home every evening."

Crybaby: A driver throwing tantrums after he was fined by the traffic
cops. PIC/Datta Kumbhar

Auto Drivers Speak:
Aslam Sheikh: "Every rickshaw here plys on sharing basis. Going to other places is worthless, as we don't get passengers on our way back."

Chanderjit Yadav: "I was going to the hospital for a check up, as I have a nose surgery tomorrow. So I thought I will only ply towards that direction, but a commuter asked me to ply to the opposite direction, I refused and I got caught. Now you tell me, do I entertain him first or take care of my health?"

Text: Dazy Verma

Place: Outside Andheri Station
Time: 9.30am-11.30am and 5pm-7pm
Offenders caught: 3
Commuters speak:
Remoz D'souza, said, "Being a dialysis patient, I get tired after standing for a long time. However, the rickshaw drivers are extremely unsympathetic and refuse to ply short distances. Every morning I have to wait for nearly half an hour to get a rickshaw that agrees to ply me."

Fighter cock: A driver arguing with traffic cops. PIC/Atul Kamble

Auto drivers speak:
Mahendra Gupta: "It's two weeks since the deadline for paying the instalment for the auto elapsed. I have to clear the due today or else the bank will confiscate my vehicle. This was the only reason I refused to ply the passenger. But unfortunately, I was caught for it."

Spot of bother:
Rickshaw driver Habib Shaikh was on the lookout for those commuters travelling to SEEPZ. While doing so, he adamantly refused to ply passengers to any of the nearby destinations. Observing Shaikh's arrogance, D'souza and Ashish More lodged a complaint with the traffic police, who later confiscated Shaikh's licence. Following the confiscation of his licence, Shaikh started arguing with the duo and abused them.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

Place: Nehru Nagar, Kurla
Time: 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm
Offender caught: 8
Commuters speak:
Surekha Jadhav, who came to Nehru Nagar, lamented, "Both the rickshaw drivers at the stand refused to ply. As my son was not feeling well, we came to our family doctor for a check up. Instead of going in a crowded bus for a shorter distance, I thought I'll take an auto, but had to face refusal."

Sandeep Gholap, who had accompanied her mother for some shopping, said, "Diwali is fast approaching and we came to purchase food items. Since we were carrying too many handbags, we thought of taking a rickshaw. But none of them agreed to ply."

Let me explain: A driver reasoning with the officer. PIC/Atul Kamble

Auto Drivers Speak:
Dattair Lhandge: "I was waiting at the stand and because the first rickshaw refused to ply, I followed suit. Had I agreed, the officials would have fined me for jumping the queue and plying the passenger."

Spot of bother:
Around eight labour workers  approached a rickshaw for Chunabatti from Nehru Nagar. After the workers started walking away from the auto, the traffic cops assumed that the driver had refused to ply and caught him. However, after talking to the labourers, the cops realised that all eight of them wanted to travel in a single rickshaw, to which the driver had refused.

Text: Faisal G Tandel

Place: Haveli Station Bridge Ghatkopar (W)
Time: 9am-11am and 5pm-7pm
Offenders caught: 13
Commuters speak:
Rajeev Rao said, "Rickshaw drivers love driving around with their meters half down and then ply those whom they feel like."

Ticketed: Traffic constable fining one of the offenders. PIC/Sameer Abedi

Auto drivers speak:
Yogesh Gawda: "My rickshaw has some genuine problems hence I said no. I have my meter half down for a reason. So I don't know why I was caught."

Baban Khode: "This meter is already causing us losses, and the new electronic one's will only make it worse. What is our fault? Everyone thinks we are thieves because we are poor. Is being poor a crime?"

Text: Maleeva Rebello

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