Commuters stranded in Gurgaon as auto drivers go on flash strike
Thousands of commuters were left stranded Monday morning in Gurgaon as auto-rickshaw unions went on a flash strike to protest the recent police action against them.gurgaon Updated: Aug 30, 2016 01:30 IST
Hundreds of commuters were stranded on city roads as most of the autorickshaws went on a flash strike on Monday to protest the recent police action against some of the drivers.
Later in the day, agitating auto drivers affiliated to major auto unions claimed that the strike would continue on Tuesday as well. Bur some smaller groups said they will discontinue the strike in light of the assurances given during the meeting with the police and administrative authorities.
As many as 24,000 three-wheelers -- 15,000 shared (black) and 9,000 private (green) -- were part of the strike call given by auto unions, putting commuters to inconvenience.
“I have been waiting for an autorickshaw for the last half an hour. The buses are negligible in number,” said Ashutosh Singh, a commuter in Rajiv Chowk. People were seen waiting for public transport at bus stops too. Among the most affected areas were the railway station, metro stations and bus stands where last mile connectivity became a problem.
At some places such as Atul Kataria Chowk and Badshahpur, the agitating auto drivers forced drivers to keep their three-wheelers off the road. Drivers ferrying passengers were allegedly threatened and beaten up by other drivers.
“Those ferrying commuters are being beaten up by other drivers,” said Vimal Singh, a commuter in South City 1.
Police personnel were deployed in places from where such incidents were reported.
The office bearers of the green auto drivers’ unions called a gathering at Rajiv Chowk around 10 am, from where they marched towards the police commissioner’s office and handed over a memorandum of demands to the joint commissioner of police and traffic head Y Puran Kumar.
Those representing shared autos submitted a separate memorandum. A meeting was also convened by deputy commissioner TL Satyaprakash.
“The police action that started 10 days ago is an excuse to harass poor auto drivers. They have fined us for minor offences such as overtaking schoolbuses. Some drivers have been challaned and their vehicles impounded despite possessing all valid documents,” said Mahavir Singh, president of the Haryana Auto Drivers’ Union.
“We will not give up the strike unless our demands are met completely. We want a word from the police that they will not harass drivers,” he said.
During the eight-day special ‘enforcement drive’ between August 17 and August 24, taken up after the new police commissioner Sandeep Khirwar joined, Gurgaon traffic police impounded 1,828 autos for various violations.
The drive -- which the police said was aimed at improving traffic conditions in the city by making roads congestion-free -- led to strong resentment among autorickshaw drivers who even alleged that the police were demanding bribes from them.
“They (police) are impounding autos for no reason. And then they are asking us to pay fines to release the three-wheelers. We cannot afford this,” Singh said.