On day 21 of MiD DAY's Meter Down Campaign, errant auto drivers blamed everything under the sun for refusing fare; repeat offenders caught and fined, refuse to learn their lesson

Place: Vakola Church, Santacruz (East)
Time: 10 am - 12 pm
Offenders caught: 2

A driver pleading with a traffic constable

Commuters Speak
Sadhvi Virkar said, "The rickshaw drivers act pricey. They only ply to their favourite destinations and completely ignore our convenience. Besides, they even ask for extra. With petrol prices going up, they are going to harass us even more."
Anish Singhal said, "It doesn't matter what time of the day it is, these drivers are always running out of gas. While most of them drive past us, those who halt, start giving stupid excuses."
Auto Drivers Speak
Rajkumar Gupta: "A passenger asked me to ply to Grand Hyatt Hotel from Vakola Church. There are two Hyatts, one at Vakola and the other in Andheri. I got confused and in that confusion, the passenger left. However, the constable thought I refused him and caught me. Why are we being fined for the commuter's fault?"
Mukesh Kumar: "I was heading in one direction and the passenger wanted to go in the opposite direction. Due to heavy traffic, taking a U-turn on this road is a pain, so I refused."
Text: Dazy Verma

Place: Malad Station (W)
Time: 10 am - 12 pm
Offenders caught: 7

Traffic cops fine an errant driver for refusing fare. PIC/MAHESH CHAFE

Commuters Speak
Ravindra Pai said, "Refusing to ferry passengers to nearby destinations has become a habit among the auto drivers. They don't even sympathise with the elderly. On several occasions, my old mother had to wait for over 30 minutes before an auto driver agrees to ply her to our residence at Liberty Garden."
Mamta Parekh said, "I am tired of wasting time every morning in order to find a rickshaw that agrees
to ply me to my office at Interface. These days, I leave early, because I know that I'll be wasting time in finding an auto at the station."
Auto Drivers Speak
After being caught for refusing to ply a passenger, Saudham Gujar said, "I have a fixed fare of a vegetable vendor from Marve to Manori. Hence I refused the other passenger."
Shrikant Balwan, who was caught for refusing two passengers, said, "Both the passengers asked
me together and I got confused. Hence I said no to both of them."
Spot of Bother
Rickshaw driver Raj Bahadur Pal was caught the second time in a span of three months for refusing to ply passengers. While refusing the fare to Sandhya Kharva, Pal had kept the meter half-down. When the traffic police apprehended Pal, he said that the vehicle was engaged and the passenger would be returning in some time. However, no one returned for the next 20 minutes.
The cops then asked the Pal for his licence. After scrutinising his licence, the cops learnt that it wasn't a proper one. He then made frantic calls to a local union leader, hoping that he would bail him out. However, the cops confiscated his licence and vehicle, without paying heed to his name calling.
Text: Nivedita Dargalkar