Thousands of taxis and auto-rickshaws went off roads in Mumbai in response to a strike call on Monday, inconveniencing commuters in certain areas. The call was given by 'Swabhiman' union, which is demanding a ban on mobile application-based cab services such as Uber, Ola and Meru Plus in Mumbai, saying they were "eating into" their business.
The union, which claims to have 18,000 auto-rickshaw owners and 12,000 taxi owners as its members, said the stir was "more than successful".
"Our day-long strike was more than successful and we have warned the government that they can no longer take our demand lightly," said KK Tiwari, Mumbai unit president of the union.
Impact of the strike was largely limited, but at prominent points such as Mumbai CST, Mumbai Central, Tardeo and Bandra Terminus, where union members operate prepaid service, commuters faced difficulty in reaching their destinations in the absence of autos and taxis.
"This was like a wake-up call for the government. If our demands are not met, our men would not hesitate to throw out those "illegal" cabs who are "ruining" the lives of traditional taxi owners like us," warned Tiwari.
On Sunday, Tiwari was detained by Santacruz police as a precautionary measure. He was released on Monday after 11am.
On June 9, the union had dashed off a letter to Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, transport minister Diwakar Raote and the transport commissioner, seeking a ban on services of cab aggregators in the metropolis.
The union had threatened to go on a strike on June 15 if their demand was not met.
Interestingly, the largest union of taxi owners in the city, led by AL Quadros, did not back the strike though it supported the issues raised by 'Swabhiman'.
Quadros, president of Mumbai taximens union, said, "There issues are right but the way they reacted, is highly condemnable. What did they achieve today? Nothing."
"They are demanding the ouster of Ola cabs. So what would happen to those 4000 Ola drivers who have joined this fleet?" he asked.
The largest auto union in Mumbai, led by Shashank Rao, has called a strike on June 17.