At the end of three days of strike on Sunday, hundreds of autorickshaw drivers gathered at Usmanpura garden to decide their future course of action in a meeting that lasted for more than an hour. With the intention of intensifying their protest against the state government, they announced going on a three-day hunger strike followed by an indefinite strike, if the government fails to listen to their demands.
Elaborating more about their future plans, president of Ahmedabad Autorickshaw Chalak Sangharsh Samiti, Harihar Mishra said that they would go on a hunger strike from January 23. “In spite of the three-day strike, which affected thousands of commuters to a great extent, there has been no response from the state government. Hence, we will go on a hunger strike from January 23-25,” said Mishra.
He further said that the drivers will be on relay fast at the Income tax circle.
“If the government still fails to respond, we will then go on indefinite strike where auto drivers from all across the state will participate,” added Mishra.
Around 1.25 lakh auto drivers of the city participated in the 3-day strike. The indefinite strike, proposed later, will witness around 18 lakh auto drivers joining in from across the state.
Amdavadis had tough time dealing with the attitude of auto drivers. While many waited for long to catch an auto, others paid exorbitant price for taxis. The auto drivers demanded hike in the minimum fare from Rs11 to Rs15. But the government has permitted a hike of Re1. Further, the drivers want the running charge from the present Rs8 per km to Rs9 per km, for which the government has allowed hike of 0.50paise.
Mukesh Shah, a resident of Vastrapur, said, “I wanted to go to the airport on Saturday but the auto drivers refused to take passengers. Finally, I had to hire a taxi and pay an exorbitant price.”
However, the strike did not just affect the commuters, it was a loss for the auto drivers too. The striking auto drivers lost business of minimum Rs300- 500 every day.
With the announcement of indefinite strike, there’s more trouble waiting for the commuters until the state government considers their demands. “There has been no response from the government. Therefore, we are compelled to announce the indefinite strike. We are ready to negotiate the minimum fare with the government,” said Mishra.