Surprise check by transport chief spurred crackdown on Mumbai RTO touts

The crackdown on illegal agents, which began on Monday, was preceded by a surprise visit by the transport commissioner to the Worli RTO, where he caught a few touts on the premises; following the visit, all RTOs initiated stringent action

It took a surprise check by State Transport Commissioner Mahesh Zagade to get RTO officials to initiate the crack down on illegal agents. Sources said that on Saturday, Zagade was in Worli for some work and decided to visit the Worli RTO which is a wing of the main RTOs in Mumbai and is headed by a deputy RTO located near Pochkanwala Road.

Officials said the touts at the Worli RTO started running on seeing Transport Commissioner Mahesh Zagade and a few of them even scaled the tall walls. File pic
Officials said the touts at the Worli RTO started running on seeing Transport Commissioner Mahesh Zagade and a few of them even scaled the tall walls. File pic

That’s when the drama began. Zagade went to the RTO and saw at least five illegal agents inside, who were busy carrying out their activities. “They started running after seeing him. In fact, a few of them even scaled the tall walls,” said an RTO official on condition of anonymity.

mid-day’s report yesterday
mid-day’s report yesterday

Normally, there is very little traffic on the road and consists mostly of people coming to the RTO or the traffic police headquarters nearby. Sources, however, said that there was complete chaos that day as Zagade had recently sent letters to all RTOs in the state warning them of strict action unless all illegal agents were prevented from entering the premises.

Officials said that Zagade also caught an illegal agent and confiscated his briefcase, which reportedly contained a few forms for various works related to the RTO and a diary. The contents of the diary are not clear as of now. Zagade then went to the other departments, but everyone had run helter-skelter by then, including the RTO officials.

Close shave
No action has, however, been taken against the officials at the Worli RTO. Senior transport department officials said that Zagade had said that action would be taken if any illegal agent was seen loitering inside RTO premises from January 19 and his visit had taken place on January 17.

The visit did send shockwaves across the RTOs in the state, though, who have been cracking down on the touts. Speaking to mid-day, Zagade confirmed the incident, but declined to elaborate.

Protests continue
The protests and unruly behaviour by the illegal agents on Monday, which mid-day had reported about, continued yesterday as well. There was unrest across RTOs in the city as the agents came together and, in a show of strength, refused to allow representatives of driving schools and their students, vehicle dealers, auto and taxi drivers and permit holders inside the premises. Only people who had gone to appear for tests for learners’ and permanent licenses were allowed to enter after filling up their details in a register kept outside.

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