Accusing the opposition of creating anarchy using taxis as a weapon, West Bengal government today warned of stern action against errant drivers who force others from plying their vehicles creating great inconvenience for the people. "I will hold a meeting with the police on how to stop vandalism by a section of taxi drivers and creating a sense of panic among willing cabbies," state Transport Minister Madan Mitra told newspersons here after taxis remained off the city's roads for the second consecutive day today.
They are demanding the release of 22 fellow drivers arrested last week for enforcing a strike seeking fare hike and stopping alleged police harassment. They are to be produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court here this afternoon and the drivers are scheduled to hold a demonstration outside the court premises. Passengers at major railway stations and NSCB International Airport, as well as patients and office-goers were having a harrowing time in reaching their destinations.
"I have instructed the police to arrest the drivers involved in vandalism. Drivers should know that leaders of CPI(M) and BJP, who are trying to create anarchy will flee whenever arrests will be made. CPI(M) leader Shyamal Chakraborty and few others who had never stood for the cause of taxi drivers in the past, are suddenly being sympathetic to them," the minister said.
CITU is backing the drivers' threat not to bring out taxis till the 22 were released from custody. Mitra said he would meet the police and take step to post police at all major intersections and facilitate willing taxi drivers to operate their vehicles. Even today a taxi was attacked for carrying a school student.
On the meeting scheduled to be held with taxi unions on August 13, he said "Meeting does not mean we will compromise but to tell them categorically that hard decisions will be taken against them if normalcy is not restored." Mitra apologised for the inconvenience caused to the people due to the absence of taxis and said government had arranged extra buses at Sealdah and Howrah railway stations to ease the situation.