Taxi-drivers' protests disrupt Melbourne traffic over stabbing of Indian cabbie

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Melbourne, Apr 30 : Traffic has been disrupted in Melbourne since last evening, following strong protests from nearly one thousand taxi drivers demanding safety, after a 23-year-old Indian part-time taxi driver was stabbed several times by a miscreant in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

At times standoffs emerged between the protesting taxi drivers and the Police, even as cops were seen dragging them away.

Jalvinder Singh, the stabbed taxi driver, has been declared out of danger at Royal Melbourne Hospital after his condition improved. A man charged with his attempted murder appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court today.

The agitated taxi-drivers, most of them Indians, shouted slogans against the Melbourne Police and demanded better safety conditions for them during odd hours.

Trams are being diverted, access to the city's airport is under threat and mounted police are on standby as cab drivers protest over the stabbing of a colleague, said an AAP report

According to the report, three taxi-driver representatives met the taxi directorate on Wednesday morning agreed to march on Parliament House to shift the protest from the city center, but their attempts to convince the protesters to move have failed, extending the protest which began on Tuesday afternoon.

Taxi drivers have also threatened to block access to Melbourne Airport if the Transport Minister doesn't meet them before noon.

Some protesters removed their shirts chanting slogans like "What do we want? Justice!", and "Taxi-drivers rights, Human rights"..

Demands of the protesting taxi-drivers include compensation for the stabbing victim, safety screens for cabs, fares to be pre-paid around the clock, special protection at specific rail stations and suburbs, and a demand that police treat migrant complaints seriously.

Police said they could break up the protest at any time. Inspector Steve Beith told 3AW radio the traffic situation was "not good". The police were willing to facilitate a peaceful protest and march but had been frustrated in their search for a single voice from the protesters, said Beith and added: "There doesn't appear to be any structure or organizers. Every time we try to speak to anybody the shouting and the chants start. It's very difficult to hear what they're trying to say. There appears to be different groups with different organisers of those groups. It's very hard to work out who's who."

ANI

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