Taxi drivers in Shimla go on strike as union rivalry takes ugly turn
Following a scuffle between two rival unions cab drivers last week, Shimla came to a standstill with taxi operators going on a strike on the call of the local taxi union.
On Saturday (June 17), a driver of Sirmaur’s Chudeshwar Taxi Union while showing hotel rooms to a tourist near Auckland Tunnel got into a scuffle with the members of Devbhoomi Taxi Union from Shimla.
The scuffle was soon joined by other members of the two taxi unions who went at one another with rods, wooden sticks, and other items and broke window panes of several taxis.
The Shimla Taxi Union went on strike after 10 am Thursday (June 22) and took out a march from AG office to DC office where they staged a demonstration.
“We demand that all people involved in the fight be arrested and unauthorised guides be removed,” Devbhoomi Taxi Union President Ajay Thakur told PTI.
Meanwhile, tourists were stranded in absence of cabs, and locals, especially those who were supposed to ferry back their children from school, too found themselves with little resort in the way of commuting.
“I had to take a half-day leave from my office to pick up my daughter,” said one Ashish.
Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anirudh Singh told reporters on Thursday that everyone had the right to ply their trade in Himachal Pradesh, which he termed a “devbhoomi.”
“Congress is a secular party and I have never talked about regionalism. Some people with vested interest are giving regional colour to the matter,” he said and accused the BJP leaders of flaring the issue.
“I have said that people involved in violence should be arrested and unauthorised taxis and guides, irrespective of the area, should be removed,” he added.
On Tuesday, the Chudeshwar Taxi Union too had mounted a protest outside the DC office saying that regionalism would not be tolerated.
Pacifying the Shimla Taxi Union, Anirudh Singh had on Monday said the guides from Sirmaur stopping tourist vehicles in the town would be removed.
Leader of the opposition Jai Ram Thakur in a statement issued on Tuesday had said that Shimla, the capital, belongs to all the people of the state.
He also called Anirudh Singh’s statement on the matter an attack on the federal structure, aimed at breaking the state.
Shimla Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi said the conflict was a fallout of competition between the two taxi unions and a committee has been constituted by the Deputy Commissioner to find a permanent solution to the problem.
(With agency inputs)