Seven auto-rickshaws damaged in Mumbai

Mumbai: Seven auto-rickshaws were on Wednesday attacked by unidentified persons, days after the drivers went on a day-long strike twice last week and their union threatened indefinite agitation in November for revision of fares, police said.

Twelve persons, believed to be associated with political parties, were arrested for damaging an autorickshaw in Sion area, they said.

One autorickshaw each in Vile Parle, Nirmal Nagar, Kurar and three in Borivali were also damaged by unidentified persons, who are absconding, police said.

Mumbai Auto-rickshawmen's Union has threatened an indefinite strike next month demanding upward revision of fares.

Autos went off the roads on two separate days last week giving commuters in the suburbs a harrowing time.

Yesterday, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had said his party would step in to minimise the inconvenience caused to commuters due to the "arrogant" behaviour of auto drivers.

Shiv Sena also criticised the auto union and expressed sympathy with the commuters.

Meanwhile, in a late night statement, Sharad Rao, president of Mumbai Auto-rickshawmens' Union, said that MNS Chief Raj Thackeray's statements yesterday had incited the attacks.

The statement held Raj Thackeray directly responsible for the attacks on rickshaws, and sought action against him.

According to Rao, two rickshaws, belonging to Arjun Dhere and one Patil respectively, both "Marathis", alongwith another of Radheshyam Yadav were burnt last night.

This apart, rickshaws were damaged in Bandra, Goregaon Prabodhan, Santacruz-Vakola, Malad, etc, it said.

The statement also alleged that this was a conspiracy to create tension in the city, so as to "affect" tomorrow's annual Dussehra rally of Shiv Sena.

Rickshaw drivers had been victims of political one-upmanship between MNS and Sena, Rao alleged.