Police defend commandeering of taxis for election duty

Anil Kumar Sastry and Raghava M.

Drivers and owners taken by surprise over the short notice period

BANGALORE: Even as taxi drivers and owners protested over the commandeering of their vehicles by the police for election purposes, the maxi-cab owners’ association and the police defended the action saying public service vehicles could be taken for the common good at any time.

The drivers and owners said they were taken by surprise over the short notice and feared that considering most of them were attached to call centres and IT (information technology) companies, the firms might terminate their services.

On Wednesday, nearly 30 drivers protested against what they said was police highhandedness in Bangalore East Police Division while securing their vehicles.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) Soumendu Mukherjee told The Hindu that commandeering of taxis was the last resort as no government vehicles were available. “Each constituency requires at least 30 mobile police patrols and we are left with no option but to secure public service vehicles, including taxis and buses,” he said.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Shankar M. Bidari said police and paramilitary personnel, who will be deployed in large numbers, require adequate transport arrangements. Moreover, owners of such vehicles are being justly compensated, he said.

Mr. Mukherjee noted that the Government recently revised the daily rent, which was hitherto Rs. 450 a day, to a minimum of Rs. 850 and maximum of Rs. 1,300 a day for taxis.

“We have also received funds from the Election Commission to be disbursed to taxi owners in advance,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Akhila Karnataka Maxi Cab and Motor Cab Owners’ Welfare Association president Byrava Siddaramaiah said the association has extended full support to the official machinery while providing vehicles.

The revised rents are attractive with taxis being given Rs. 1,300 and maxi-cabs Rs. 1,750 a day.

The amount will be paid irrespective of the fact whether the vehicle was used or not, he noted.

Mr. Siddaramaiah noted that, perhaps, many of the drivers were not aware of the conditions under which permits for their vehicles were issued.

As a public service vehicle, it could be secured by the Government at any time for public cause, he pointed out.

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