Kolkata taxi drivers call off strike

After holding the people to ransom for two days, a strike call by the taxi drivers in the city was on Wednesday called off following a meeting with West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra.

Kolkata: After holding the people to ransom for two days, a strike call by the taxi drivers in the city was on Wednesday called off following a meeting with West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra.

"We have decided to call-off the strike as the minister promised to look into our demands," INTUC leader Ramen Pandey, who represented the city`s taxi drivers, said.

"We basically have three demands - one is increase in fare, night charges of 25 per cent above the fare and thirdly cases against 22 taxi drivers be dropped unconditionally," Pandey said.
"Mitra said he would look into the legality of dropping the cases against the drivers and let us know in three to four days," he added.

The minister, however, told reporters after his meeting with the representatives of different taxi unions that the state would appeal to a higher court against the bail granted to 22 drivers who were arrested in a case of vandalism for enforcing a strike last week.

"We would not allow refusal by taxi drivers at all and are thinking of moving an appeal before a higher court challenging the bail," Mitra said.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Biswarup Seth yesterday granted bail to 21 drivers on a bond of Rs 500 each and fixed the next date of hearing in the case of vandalism against them on August 26. Another driver got bail on Monday.
The cabbies went on a day`s strike demanding a halt on alleged police harassment and withdrawal of a penalty of Rs 3,000 for refusing to passengers.

Twenty-two drivers were arrested during the protest and taxis went off the road since Monday with the cabbies demanding their unconditional release.