Mumbai: After RTO crackdown, touts demand they should be allowed to 'help' people

Illegal agents who were evicted from RTO premises after the transport department’s crackdown have planned a protest meet at Azad Maidan today, asking authorities to allow them to work again

After being thrown out from Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) across Mumbai and the state, illegal agents have now planned to come together and protest against authorities. Touts have planned to hold a ‘mahasabha’ at Azad Maidan today, to protest against the crackdown on them by RTO officials.

Agents made announcements outside RTO offices of the city, asking touts to be present for the protest meet at Azad Maidan today
Agents made announcements outside RTO offices of the city, asking touts to be present for the protest meet at Azad Maidan today

On Tuesday, these touts held gatherings at various RTOs in Mumbai, where they shouted slogans and asked all illegal agents who have not been licenced to operate by the government to come for the protest meet on February 11. Agents were seen standing on chairs in the middle of roads and reading out pamphlets outside RTO premises.

Sources told mid-day that these pamphlets were also distributed at RTOs, asking each and every agent to be present for the meet. “We will not be working at the RTO on February 11 as we will be protesting,” said an agent, on the condition of anonymity.

'Only serving people'
Claiming they only help people, touts said they would ask to be allowed to work at RTOs. Sources in the RTO also said that there should be some mechanism in place to make sure this issue can be sorted out once and for all. “A blanket fee can be put in place so that agents cannot fleece people,” said an RTO official.

Officials claim that at present there is a shortage of manpower of almost 40 per cent at every RTO in the city. Protest or not, touts have made a comeback outside RTO premises 10 days after they were removed. They have created makeshift offices on chairs and stools, and are even working from inside cars or on bikes.

‘Who is a tout?’
When asked about the issue of illegal agents at RTOs, State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said, “I have not visited RTOs for sometime and have not encountered them.

They may be present, however, we cannot define who can be termed as an agent.” Raote asked if anyone coming at the transport office on behalf of someone else could be treated as an illegal agent.

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