Bhubaneswar, Jan. 28: Commuters faced a lot of difficulties today as autorickshaw drivers stayed off roads in protest against alleged police highhandedness.
They also took out an autorickshaw rally from the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) office that culminated near the Assembly.
Around 3,000 autorickshaw operators participated in the rally shouting slogans against the city police and traffic cops for harassing them.
The rally brought traffic along Janpath connecting Rajmahal Square with Master Canteen Square and the road from BMC office to Kalpana Square on NH-203 to a halt with hundreds of vehicles stranded on both sides of the roads.
Ankita Sahu, a company employee and resident of Bhouma Nagar, said she depended on autorickshaws to travel to her office at Patia. But when she stepped out today she did not get any. “Moreover, when I got into a city bus after waiting for around an hour, the traffic jam made me late to office by more than two hours,” said the 25-year-old woman.
Sashank Shekhar Subudhi, an advocate residing in Kharavela Nagar, said he reached court late because of the rally. “I saw the autorickshaws participating in a big rally blocking the entire Janpath. My car got stuck in the traffic jam and it took more than two hours to clear the jam,” said Subudhi.
The protest was against assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Binod Das, who has recently been embroiled in controversy for allegedly beating up autorickshaw drivers.
On January 19, autorickshaw operator Jaginath Sahu was injured after the ACP allegedly beat him up with a baton. Sahu’s wife lodged a complaint with Capital police station, but they did not entertain her complaint.
Bhubaneswar Autorickshaw Mahasangh president Padman Samal said they had demanded suspension of the ACP and registration of criminal cases against the senior cop.
Denying allegations against him, ACP Das said the drivers who did not follow traffic norms were penalised. “I have never assaulted any autorickshaw operator. I am ready to face any inquiry,” he said.