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Auto drivers block arterial road

Trinamul-backed auto drivers blocked AJC Bose Road on Thursday afternoon to protest police action against drivers ferrying more than four people, a day after the transport minister threatened to intensify the crackdown.

Thirty autos blocked the road near the tram depot at Nonapukur for 20 minutes in two phases from 12.50pm, inconveniencing thousands of commuters.

“A section of auto drivers is behaving arbitrarily. We have been receiving complaints from passengers who have been bearing with us very patiently. Crackdown is on but police have been asked to intensify the vigil,” minister Madan Mitra had said on Wednesday.

The trigger for the blockade was Wednesday’s police action against four autos that had violated rules by ferrying more than four passengers. The penalty for the offence is a fine of Rs 3,000.

The protesters, who ply autos on the Lohapool-Dharmatala route, are all affiliated to the Indian National Trinamul Trade Union Congress.

“They wanted us to reduce the penalty amount,” said a police officer.

The drivers blocked both flanks of the road at 12.50pm but dispersed 10 minutes later following police intervention.

Just when the traffic was about to become normal, the drivers resumed the blockade at 1.10pm for another 10 minutes. This time they kept the western flank open. “To begin with, all roads were clogged on Thursday afternoon. The blockade only added to our inconvenience. It took me 40 minutes to reach Moulali from Mullick Bazaar,” said a doctor.

Fake lottery: Eight men were arrested and 24 computers seized on Thursday in raids at Tollygunge, Alipore and Kalighat in connection with a fake lottery racket.