Today, as we were getting into an Uber cab (after what was supposed to be a happy day at the movie with the kids) in front of BMC Bhawani Mall, we were suddenly stomped around by a group of 7-8 auto drivers. They created a ruckus and roughed up our driver, asking him to get out of the car on the allegation that he was carrying 5 passengers in the car which is against Uber regulations.
We were scared, confused and agitated at the same time as to how the auto drivers had resorted to hooliganism and were threatening the cab driver while asking us to cancel the ride or be ready to face the ‘consequences.’
The situation became scary and chaotic when they started clicking pictures and making videos of the car, without asking for permission, after which even we started recording the incident. At one point, they were so aggressive with my sister that we started looking around for help. In spite of security guards and public surrounding the scene, no one stepped forward to offer help. Being stuck in a situation where the intimidated driver had left us to find alternate means of transport, we were completely shuddered by the events that had just taken place.
When we called the INOX guard for help, he said it’s a regular affair and passengers who try to hail a cab are usually subjected to this ‘torture’ by the autowalas in the area.
What rattles me is not just what happened to us but the potential such reactions from auto drivers holds to disturb public life.
Imagine using an Uber during a medical emergency, only to be stopped by a bunch of auto guys who arm twist you to get down and take an auto? Wouldn’t time be of critical value to the patient? Imagine a student taking a cab from her college campus to meet her family for the weekend, only to be manhandled by autowalas in the name of their union.
Of late, the aggressive behaviour of auto drivers has been turning into vandalism. A few days back, the Union had called for a strike where the members had not only suspended auto services, but had also forced all app-based taxi services from running. Though empathetic to the condition of Auto drivers in Bhubaneswar, where new age technology and aggregators like Uber, Ola and Jugnoo seem like a threat to their livelihood, bullying passengers and cab drivers is certainly not the solution.
What’s scarier is – today it was me and my family. Tomorrow it could be You, or someone close to You. Lets act before its not too late.
[Shared by Deevyam Dhal]
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