The traffic police's tussle with the transport department over public service vehicle (PSV) badges has become the cause of harassment for lakhs of people in Delhi.
The badges, issued by the transport department, are mandatory for drivers of public transport vehicles. They ensure that the drivers are verified and can operate in the city.
The traffic police have fined a large number of auto-rickshaw drivers, impounded their vehicles and cancelled their permits as part of a drive to check for the badges. The traffic police action provoked auto-rickshaw unions in the city to protest outside the police headquarters on Monday.
Around 20% of the city's 55,000 auto-rickshaws stayed off the road to oppose the fines of up to Rs. 5,000, the unions said.
This has resulted in hardships for those who had to travel in the city.
"I had to wait for almost 30 minutes for an auto-rickshaw. The drivers were asking for unreasonably high fares and refused to go by the meter," said Rashmi Arora, a resident of Sarita Vihar.
The traffic police drive that began on June 6 continued for 22 days till the transport department intervened.
"We are being harassed for the past few days. The Delhi government has not been issuing PSV badges, but the traffic police launched a drive and fined all those without the badges. The traffic police have now assured us that they would discontinue the drive on the directions of the government," Rajendra Soni, the president of Bharat Autorickshaw Chalak Sangh, said.
The traffic police, on the other hand, claimed that they had launched the drive to tighten the noose around financiers who provide untrained drivers with auto-rickshaws.The drivers often are without badges and driving licences.
"We discontinued the drive after a verbal communication from the transport department. We will take a final call on the matter after receiving an official communication from the department," said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police, traffic.