By Arnab Mitra
Kolkata: On Saturday, two policemen in civil dress were seen allegedly lashing a rickshaw puller in the New Market area. According to the Police, “the rickshaw was illegally parked in that area”, however, they failed to give any valid reason behind their barbarous act.
The passers-by said that it is a common practice. The policemen earn their pocket money from these poor and helpless rickshaw pullers. If these rickshaw pullers refuse their demands, they are beaten without any explanation.
According to Mansoor Yadav, the president of the Rikshaw Puller Association, “The government is planning to ban hand-pulled rickshaws in the city and as a compensation they have promised to rehabilitate them. But till now we haven’t got any kind of cooperation from the government. Above all that, we are made to leave our profession by force and are often harassed.”
Raghu Yadav, the assaulted rickshaw puller said, “How will I work now? They have made me jobless. I don’t have money to get my rickshaw repaired.” The agony of every rickshaw puller is the same. “Don’t make us jobless to fulfill your hi-tech dream. Please make a proper rehabilitation plan for us, else we will die,” the rickshaw pullers said in unanimity.
Shovan Chatterjee, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s Mayor said, “We are thinking to rehabilitate them before Durga Puja, and we will also come up with a plan to ply hand-pulled rickshaws only in places of tourist interest.”
The Mayor, however, refused to comment on the incidence of brutality by policemen on rickshaw pullers.