Taxis stay off Kolkata roads, commuters hit
Harried commuters here Monday ran helter skelter, trying to get into buses, or formed serpentine queues in front of auto-rickshaw stands, as taxi drivers pulled their vehicles off the roads yet again, protesting police excesses.
The soaring humidity and brief spells of rain made it tortuous for the commuters, especially at crucial points like Sealdah and Howrah stations.
In several areas, auto-rickshaw drivers made a killing, charging twice or thrice the normal rates.
Hundreds of cab drivers took out a protest walk on the streets, responding to a call by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) labour arm Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and participated in a law violation programme.
The procession started from the Subodh Mulick Square in central Kolkata and ended at the Rani Rashmoni Avenue, decrying the "plethora of cases" lodged by police and imposition of hefty fines for violation of no-refusal rules.
The agitators said they were being charged around Rs.3,000-5,000 as penalty for refusing passengers and on carrying even small articles by passengers.
"Police atrocities are increasing. Cases are being lodged under non-bailable sections. The drivers are being threatened that their permits will be cancelled," said CITU leader and former state minister Anadi Sahu.
Last week, taxi drivers resorted to flash strikes twice that stumped commuters and took the administration and police by surprise. Later, 22 drivers were arrested.
Transport Minister Madan Mitra later asked the cab drivers to join a meeting Wednesday to discuss their grievances with the state government.
(Posted on 11-08-2014)