It was business as usual on the second day of the indefinite auto bandh called by Auto Unions Joint Action Committee demanding a hike in the passenger fares.
Though commuters could easily get autos, the drivers charged them hefty amounts and, with no other option, they had to pay through the nose.
“We wanted to go from Secunderabad to Kondapur. Usually, the fare comes to around Rs 250 for that distance but today they are asking for Rs 400,” said a group of four commuters.
Another commuter had a similar complaint to make.
Autorickshaws were seen carrying passengers as on any other day. An auto driver, Mohd Asadullah, said they were taking the risk and plying for short distances to avoid the trouble of being stopped or even beaten up.
“Just now I have returned after stopping some autos at Musheerabad. Our unity is most important if the bandh is to become successful. Our important demand is for reduction of the fine of Rs 1,000 for even petty traffic violations,” explained Mohd Jabbar, another driver.
Echoing his opinion, Asadullah said, “Even if we park our vehicles for a short while, policemen take photos and send us challans to our homes. Some drivers end up paying fines amounting to Rs 8,000. In a day we earn just around Rs 300 after paying rent and spending on fuel. How can we pay such hefty fines?”
Meanwhile, members of the Auto Unions JAC staged ‘Rasta Roko’ at RTC Crossroads here on Sunday demanding that fares be increased on a par with neighbouring states and the fine brought down from `1,000 to Rs 100.
Mohd Amanullah, convener of the Telangana Auto Drivers Union JAC, said that the Rasta Roko went on for about an hour. “Our officials need to learn from other states on tackling autorickshaw drivers. The problems in other states were solved by holding discussions and protests did not take place there,” he said.