HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Three wheels, three stories: star rickshawallahs

Subuhi Parvez, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 24, 2014
First Published: 17:12 IST(24/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:35 IST(25/6/2014)

With road transport ­minister Nitin Gadkari now assuring that battery-operated e-rickshaws would not be banned in Delhi, their drivers are in a happy place. They’re not only relieved for having to drive the battery-run vehicles without any hassles, but also trying to make the city proud. We met some of the most inspiring lot.

Rajesh Gujarati, 28

Rajesh is making a name for his community. When he saw autorickshaw drivers giving a hard time to the public, he decid to offer social service of sorts. “If somebody doesn’t have the money, I drop them free of cost. There’s a blind school right opposite our stand. I collected `10 from each passenger for the school. The key to make passengers happy is to never say no,” he said.

Kusum, 30

Probably the only woman to be ­driving an e-rick, this admirable lady is setting examples. Kusum is often referred as the woman of substance by her fellow drivers. “I used to work in a factory, but wasn’t able to make good money. I like driving the battery rick because it requires lesser effort. I feel liberated. I am independent in a lot of ways,” she said.

Sambhu Masa, 22

Having caught twice by the police for driving his e-rick, Sambhu had almost decided to give up on his career. “I wasn’t happy with the ­government putting pressure on us. But by God’s grace, happy days are back. I want to bring a change in the society by making it safe for women. I, also, feel there should be something to decorate thes vehicles, just like we see on trucks,” he said.

Photos: Manoj Verma

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