Auto drivers' flash strike brings Gurgaon to a halt
Following a recent protest against the traffic police, about 25,000 auto drivers, of both shared and private autos, went on a flash strike on Monday morning.
Thousands of commuters were stranded due to the strike. At some places, such as Atul Kataria Chowk and Badshahpur, some auto union members even forced other drivers to keep their three-wheelers off the road. Those who chose to ferry passengers were threatened and, in some cases, even beaten up.
The strike was the talk of the town this morning. Ritesh Yadav, a resident of Park View City 1, Sohna Road, said, “As I came out of my house, everyone was discussing the strike. About 50 per cent residents in our society use auto-rickshaws to reach the Metro.”
Many commuters found themselves stranded at Iffco Chowk for over an hour. The number of local buses is not enough to cater to all the daily commuters in the city. According to Joginder Singh, a resident of Uniworld 2 on Sohna Road, a large group of students and working professionals failed to reach their destinations on time as they kept waiting for conveyance at the auto stand.
An auto driver holds a placard during the strike on Monday
During an eight-day special “enforcement drive” between August 17 and August 24, carried out after Sandeep Khirwar joined as the new police commissioner, Gurgaon traffic police impounded 1,828 autos for various traffic violations.
The drive, which the police said was aimed at improving traffic conditions in the city by making roads congestion-free, however, led to strong resentment among auto drivers, who alleged that the police was demanding bribes from them.
“The police is impounding autos for no reason. And then it is asking us to pay fines to release the three-wheelers. We can’t afford this,” said Satbir Singh, president of the shared-auto union.
Mahavir Singh, president of the Haryana Auto Drivers’ Union, added, “The drive that started 10 days ago was just an excuse to harass poor auto drivers. They fined us for minor offences such as overtaking school buses. Some drivers were challaned and their vehicles impounded despite their having valid documents."
Auto drivers during the protest on Monday.