Bike taxi drivers face rapid intimidation


After the court order to minimize the fare of the autorickshaw, auto unions want bike taxi service to be stopped.

Harassment against bike taxi drivers by auto unions has increased in the city after a court order to minimize auto fares took effect, according to to ride aggregator Rapido.

Many bike ‘captains’, as Rapido drivers are called, in the city have complained about the increase in harassment against them, usually by auto drivers across the city.

Pritam, a Rapido bike driver, riding for the last two years, said, “Nowadays, I am afraid to park my bike next to autos because auto drivers harass me by teasing. Sometimes, they even try to snatch my phone out of my hand. Now I am afraid to put my phone on the bike’s holder. Previously I had heard about incidents like this only twice or thrice. Nowadays, this is a daily scenario for me.”

Santosh Kumar, an Uber bike driver said, “I have never experienced this before, but after the recent order from the court to minimize auto fares, I am frequently experiencing harassment and rough behaviour by auto drivers. They stop my bike and use abusive words and shout at me to not use my bike.”

Mr. Rudresh SM, another Rapido bike driver said, “I am afraid to go to some metro stations because the auto union drivers have a major presence there.  They even try to snatch the keys from my bike. I have a helpline number provided by Rapido to lodge complaints. Whenever I face such situations, I instantly inform Rapido.” 

Mr. Kiran, Deputy Manager of Rapido in Bengaluru said, “We are very much aware of the situation of our drivers. Following court order to minimize the fare of autos, harassment of our captains has increased. Harassment is mostly done by local auto drivers and also from auto unions.”

Whenever the office gets a call from any of their bike drivers, they take instant action and help them in the legal process if a case is to be filed. “Our drivers also have the option to call the police directly,” added Kiran.

However, Pritam said that even though they have the option to call the police directly and file a First Information Report (FIR), drivers like him do not prefer to do that because their main concern is to escape an altercation. “At that time when we face harassment, we just want to escape the situation. Like me, many drivers do not prefer to file an FIR to avoid regular appearances in police stations and to save their money and time.” 

Praveen K, Sub Inspector of Cubbon Park police station said, “I have been hearing about these cases regularly now. But we do not get many FIRs from bike taxi drivers. That is also because most of them complain about harassment to a nearby traffic police officer. In my knowledge, they try to avoid FIR because they are also liable for the burden of proof, which will take much time.”

In October, the government of Karnataka banned autorickshaw services of Ola, Uber, and Rapido because they were charging a higher price than the mandated government rates. But  Justice Mohammed Ghouse Shukure of the Karnataka High Court eventually allowed aggregators to continue their services with fixed prices and 10 percent extra along with GST, until the new fares are fixed.

Mr. Mubarak Ulla from NammaAuto Union said, “We do not harass anyone but according to the court, bike services are illegal in the city. They are creating trouble for us by dividing our customers. They should stop this soon.”

Mr. Ranjith, Transport Expert. said, “Auto drivers are getting fewer profits after the court’s order but unions in the city are well within their rights to stop illegal bike services through a legal process. Harassing someone is not an option.”

He added, “Most bike captains do not have their bike registered so many of them are afraid of going to the police to report any crime. That is because they can also get caught in the legal process. So, the problem is big and needs to be solved in court.”