‘Struck work after we were attacked’

Sharad Rao, president of the Mumbai Autorickshaw Union, said the drivers struck work because they were attacked by goons owing allegiance to Nitesh, Revenue Minister Narayan Rane’s son.
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Updated on Jun 23, 2010 02:07 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByShashank Rao, Mumbai

Sharad Rao, president of the Mumbai Autorickshaw Union, said the drivers struck work because they were attacked by goons owing allegiance to Nitesh, Revenue Minister Narayan Rane’s son.

Mumbaiites suffered greatly because of your strike

We went on strike after Nitesh Rane’s thugs struck between 1 am and 5 am, damaging nearly 1,000 rickshaws and 400 taxis. From then on, the drivers feared a threat and didn’t take out their vehicles. Later, other drivers joined the strike. Initially, we didn’t oppose the strike as we knew that they were suffering due to the hike in CNG prices. Later, we asked them call off the strike as it affected the common man.

But rickshaws weren’t plying till evening. Moreover, when did they start, many drivers overcharged passengers.

We asked rickshaw drivers to call off the strike immediately. If they charged passengers more, it was wrong of them to do so. We had asked them to wait till the new rate card was ready. It could be that these drivers were unauthorised ones.

Your union demanded Rs 15 as the base fare. Why did you settle for less?

We will be able to handle the burden of the CNG price hike, so we are happy with it.

Did you discuss other issues with the government?

Yes, we asked for a welfare board for taxi and rickshaw drivers, to which the government has agreed in principle. The board would provide medical and pension facilities to drivers and their families. It will now be discussed in the Cabinet.

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