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Since 1st March, 1999
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Autorickshaw strike stalls life

Patna, Dec. 27: The lifeline of Patna — its autorickshaws — ceased work for the third consecutive day today leaving passengers stranded or cramped into minibuses.

Some old routes saw the re-run of the tonga (horse cart). Due to the strike rickshawpullers had a merry time charging any price from passengers to take them to the Patna station.

Passengers, who could not manage any transport, used personal vehicles to reach stations and stops to catch trains, buses or flights. Others walked.

Passengers would get some respite tomorrow, when autorickshaws start plying again. The autorickshaw association met state transport minister Ajit Kumar today where he assured to meet the drivers’ demands by January 7. Autorickshaw owners and drivers have been protesting against police harassment and “exorbitant fines” for alleged traffic and parking norms’ violations. Drivers have been asking the government to simplify norms for allowing permits, auto parking lots and stands and for the use of commercial LPG cylinders till CNG is made available in Patna.

Bihar Autorickshaw Association secretary Murtaza Ali also accused the police of “foisting false cases” against the. “It’s time the police stopped treating us like criminals. Fines should be fixed so that the force cannot fleece us in name of traffic control,” said Ali.

Patna has over 15,000 autorickshaws with main routes from Patna Junction to Danapur, Patna Junction to Rajinder Nagar and Gandhi Maidan to Patna City. Besides that, the city has 2,000 mini buses to ferry passengers.

President of Autorickshaw Joint Struggle Committee Dhirendra Bharati told The Telegraph: “We have decided to call off the strike after the transport minister agreed to get our vehicles checked only by transport department officials, and not by policemen.” The government, said Bharati, also agreed to extend existing permits to five years.

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