Mumbai's taxis went off the roads on Thursday as the Bombay Taxi Union (BTU) declared a strike following an attack on its offices by alleged activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) the night before.
"Around 25-30 MNS activists barged into our office at Mumbai Central late on Wednesday night. They vandalised the office and assaulted some cabbies present there," BTU secretary AL Quadros said.
There are around 55,000 taxis plying in Mumbai, of which a majority are BTU members.
According to Quadros, the taxi union declared its strike on Thursday afternoon after the state government and the police failed to protect them.
"The government has neither compensated the taxi drivers nor has it extended protection to the taxi union," Quadros fumed.
Bombay Taxi Association (BTA) president Premsingh Dhanna Singh has demanded compensation for the losses suffered on account of the MNS violence. "For the present, we are not joining the strike call by BTU," Singh told IANS.
The BTU committee will decide on Thursday evening to decide the future course of action, including whether to go on an indefinite strike.
Mumbai has been witnessing trouble since Sunday when several taxis were damaged and their drivers assaulted by MNS activists just before the Samajwadi Party rally at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai.
Clashes escalated after that, leading to former Shiv Sena leader and Congress spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam being detained. The MNS is led by Raj Thackeray, nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
Sporadic incidents of violence continued for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday.