Auto-Rickshaws, Cabs Stay Off Roads In Bhubaneswar As Drivers Stage Strike

Bhubaneswar: Auto-rickshaws and cabs remained off roads in Bhubaneswar and some other places in Odisha on Thursday as the Smart City Online Auto Association members observed a strike protesting alleged humiliation by the agitating Drivers Mahasangha.

Association leaders said over 10,000 auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers participated in the strike in the state capital. Auto drivers in other cities including Cuttack and Puri also halted operations as a mark of protest against the alleged humiliation.

The striking auto and cab drivers staged demonstrations in different places holding placards and banners. They also raised slogans against the Drivers’ Mahasangha.

In Bhubaneswar, many auto-rickshaw drivers held protests at Lower PMG and Janpath protesting against the alleged humiliation by agitating bus drivers

Commuters had a tough time proceeding to their destinations following the strike by the auto-rickshaw and cab drivers, while the agitation by the Drivers’ Mahasangha entered its second day. A large number of passengers were stranded in bus stands in different places of the state.

Auto-rickshaw drivers claimed that they were humiliated in public by the members of the agitating Drivers’ Mahasangha for not participating in their strike on Wednesday.

Some of the auto-rickshaw drivers were allegedly heckled by the agitating Mahasangha members.

They further alleged that Mahasangha members made them hold placards with derogatory statements written on them. The auto-rickshaw drivers were also garlanded and insulted, while police failed to give them any protection.

Meanwhile, the state-wide strike by the Drivers’ Mahasangha with around five lakh members continued to press for several demands that include social security including pension, insurance, and death benefits.

The protesters were found staging demonstrations in different parts of the state including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. They were seen picketing on the National Highways and shouting slogans in support of their demands.

Meanwhile, private bus owners’ association secretary Debendra Sahu blamed the police for disruption in bus operations during the Drivers’ Mahasangha’s agitation.

He alleged that private bus drivers are being humiliated in the presence of police personnel in public, but the cops are not taking any action. “The police are not providing protection, how will we operate?” Sahu asked.

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