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Delhi: Auto, taxi drivers begin hunger strike

By Ians English

New Delhi, July 27: Auto-rickshaw and yellow top taxi drivers of around 20 unions on Wednesday began an "indefinite hunger strike" against app-based taxi aggregators even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of sponsoring the strike.

Incidents of the strikers forcibly stopping some auto-rickshaw drivers from ferrying passengers were reported.


"We want to ferry passengers and drive our autos, but some people on the streets are vandalising plying vehicles," an auto driver said in a video shared by Kejriwal from his twitter account.

"Even police is not providing security to us and that's why we are not ferrying passengers," the driver added.

Kejriwal on Wednesday morning alleged the BJP was supporting those striking auto-rickshaw drivers who were forcibly stopping other drivers from plying their vehicles.

"BJP goons stopping autos and taxis from plying. BJP wants to cripple Delhi. Active support from LG (Lt. Governor) and Delhi Police," Kejriwal said.

Delhi Transport Minister Satyendar Jain also accused the Delhi Police of not taking action against those forcibly stopping auto drivers from plying their vehicles.

Meanwhile, Joint Action Committee of Auto and Taxi Unions (JACATU) President Rajendra Soni refuted the claims of Kejriwal and called his government "the biggest goon".

Soni told IANS, "Kejriwal government is the biggest goon across the country."

"We are not goons, it is Kejriwal, his party and his government, which are goons," Soni said, adding, "They do this kind of thing to hide their failures."

Asked about the claims of some drivers of being pressurised to stay off the road, Soni said, "They (AAP) are conspiring against us to fail our strike. Those indulging in such practices are not our people but are hired by them (AAP)."

"Haven't you seen their MLAs and leaders sent behind bars in the case of molestation and sexual harassment," the JACATU leader said.

"We will continue our hunger strike till the time they don't accept our demands," he added.

Sanjay Chawla, president of another auto-rickshaw union, told IANS, "Auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers never indulge in fights against another driver, but respect each other. Those who indulge in such acts are some miscrents."

"The drivers have requested other drivers to join their strike," Chawla added.

Passengers had to suffer due to hooliganism by a section of auto strikers.

"I had to reach ISBT Anand Vihar from New Ashok Nagar in east Delhi but some people stopped the auto I was travelling in near Gazipur. They asked the driver not to ply the auto and join in the strike," Praveen Yadav, a medical student, told IANS.

He added, "I had to get off the auto in Gazipur and reach the bus station with the help of a friend."

Similar incidents of autos and taxis being forcibly stopped and passengers asked to get down were reported in Saket, Bhajanpura, Sarojini Nagar and Kondli areas of the city.

Around one lakh drivers of auto-rickshaws and taxis went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday and several of them are not plying their vehicles on Wednesday.

The protesters said the indefinite strike was against the increasingly popular app-based taxi services. They are demanding the Delhi government fix rates for the app-based taxi services.

About 90,000 auto-rickshaws and 15,000 traditional yellow-top taxis ply in Delhi.

Not long ago, the auto-rickshaw drivers were the mainstay of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party's campaigns and poster wars against the central government.


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