Taxis affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) are set to take part in a law-violation programme despite stern warnings by state transport minister Madan Mitra after the flash strike on August 7.
“Thousands of taxis would be kept off roads because we have a law-violation programme on Monday. The drivers would take out a procession from Subodh Mullick Square till Rani Rashmoni Avenue where they would try to violate Section 144 and get arrested,” said senior CITU leader Subhash Mukherjee.
Negating the transport ministers claim that the taxi drivers have resorted to a strike without any discussion with the state, Mukherjee said they had written to the transport minister on June 3 and June 13. “He has the time to stop us from protesting but he is not ready to talk to us,” Mukherjee said.
He also said that what Mitra was doing was illegal.
“Protesting is our constitutional right. Under what provision of law is the minister saying that the permits would be cancelled. How can he direct the police to book drivers under non-bailable sections,” he said.
Cabbies also said they were not afraid of the threats of the state.
“As it is we don’t earn enough. On top of that, police atrocities have made things worse. People don’t understand that when we refuse a passenger from Behala to Howrah that is because we will have to return with an empty cab and incur losses. They would fill out a complaint form with the taxi number and police would slap a fine of Rs 3,000 without any investigation,” said Vikram Shaw, a taxi driver. He also said the transport minister had hardly spared a thought for them.
“We have had a tough time dealing with the situation. At an average we saved Rs 300 at the end of the day. Now, more often than not, there is a loss of over Rs 2,000, thanks to the fine imposed. Madan Mitra was, however, in no mood to relent. “The hooliganism of taxi drivers would not be tolerated. They cannot hit the streets in the name of protests. We will continue to cancel their permits and book errant drivers in non-bailable sections,” he said.
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