Bharat Bandh: We're forced to join strike, rue auto drivers

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Bangalore, Feb 19: The nation is once again bracing up for a Bharat Bandh. Around 100 million workers associated with various trade union bodies are likely to join the strike. Reports suggest that two-day strike, beginning from Wednesday, Feb 20 will bring the country to a standstill, including Bangalore.

Media reports suggest that auto-rickshaws will not ply on roads on Wednesday and Thursday.

But many auto-rickshaws drivers of Bangalore said they are forced to join the bandh. Around 1, 75,000 auto-rickshaws ply on the city roads daily. Sources say out of that only 50,000 auto-rickshaw drivers are part of the strike. The rest are forced to join strike, not working for two days.

"I am not part of the strike. I will be going to my village near Mysore for the next two-days. I am forced to join the strike. If I ride my auto-rickshaw on the strike days, the hooligans will destroy my vehicle. So, I decided not to work," said Mahesh, an auto-rickshaw driver, who is riding his vehicle in the city for last 10 years.

Echoing Mahesh, Ahmed Hakim, another auto-rickshaw driver say strike means no earning for us.

"We have to work daily to provide food for our children. Those who join strike have political affiliations," lamented Hakim.

While buses operated by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) have also joined the strike. The nation-wide strike called by trade unions has support among the auto-rickshaw and bus unions in the city.

Some of the trade unions, who are participating in the strike, are - Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and many others.

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