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'You'll have to pay for spoiling our Diwali'

On day 10 of MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign, a group of drivers claiming to be a part of an auto union, created a ruckus after they were caught and fined; the group threatened commuters and journalists

Place: Mulund Check Naka
Time: 9:30 - 11:30 am and 5 - 7 pm
Offenders caught: 14
Commuters speak:
Varsha Gawda said, "Rickshaw drivers always have excuses. Everyone is now fed up of the old 'gas nahi hai' one."

Devasi Gawadi said, "Asking rickshawalas, and giving them a choice is our fault. I directly tell them where I have to go. However, at times, the rickshaw drivers make me get off, as they want a long distance fare."

Auto drivers speak:

Manohar Chauhan: "I only travel to local destinations and avoid going beyond Eastern suburbs. Going to Powai is a loss for me, as no one from there will come to Mulund."

Ismail Shaikh: "I am not a rickshaw driver. I came to meet a friend of mine, so I was in the uniform. I am a truck driver at cargo complex. I saw people waving and hence I stopped. How can I be caught for refusal?"
Spot of bother:
A group of rickshaw drivers, who claimed to be from a certain auto union, were protesting against the traffic cops for fining the offenders. Besides creating a ruckus, the group even threatened commuters, who argued or complained about the refusals. They even threatened the reporter and the photographer, saying that they would make sure the duo pays for spoiling their Diwali.

Text: Maleeva Rebello

Place: Ghatkopar (E)
Time: 5 - 7 pm
Offenders Caught: 4
Commuter speaks:
Savita Sharma, a senior citizen said, "I can't walk and hence prefer travelling via rickshaws. The driver refused to ply me because my destination was close by."
Auto driver speaks:
Ashok Jaiswal: "I always respect senior citizens, but I didn't notice the lady who was standing at the other end of the footpath."

Text: Faisal G Tandel

Place: Near Kalanagar Bridge, Bandra East
Time: 9 - 11 am, 6 - 7 pm
Offenders caught: 9
Commuters speak:
Mayuri Kawle said, "Nowadays rickshaw drivers act pricey. A driver literally abused me when I asked him to ply to Sion. After hearing several refusals, I finally got a rickshaw after 45 minutes."

Sujata Shetty said, "Even if it's pouring, they'll simply ignore you. And when you ask them for the reason, they come up with silly excuses. Everyday, my daughter and I have to go through this torture before we reach BKC."


Auto drivers Speak:
Ashok Pokhowkar: "There were two people who halted me at the same time. Had I plied one of them, the other would have started fuming. Hence I decide not to ply any of them."

Ravikant Ahire: "I was on my way to the hospital and had put the meter half-down. However, the passenger forcibly stopped me."

Text: Dazy Verma

Place: Andheri Station
Time: 10am-12pm
Offenders caught: 15
Commuters speak:
Olivia Fernandes said, "These rickshaw drivers are very adamant and refuse to ply short distances. I was at the railway station with my three-year-old daughter and had to wait for nearly two hours to find a rickshaw. Most of them simply refused and sped away."

Shashank Chickermane said, "Rickshaw drivers only say yes to those fares, which are as per their convenience. However, their convenience causes inconvenience to other commuters."

Auto driver speaks:
Akhilesh Singh, who was caught for the second time for refusing to ply, in his defence, said, "I didn't even drink tea since morning. I am feeling very sleepy. Hence I said no." However, when the traffic cops refused to buy his excuses and confiscated his license, Singh created a scene. "I am tired of being fined time and again. It's better I become a watchman."

Spot of bother:
Mohamed Sabir argued, "I can't be penalised for malfunctioned brakes." In order to verify Sabir's claims, Constable K K Kadam decided to test-drive his rickshaw. However, after it emerged that the brakes were working fine, Sabir's license was confiscated.
Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

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