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Rickshaw Drivers Have Their Day

IMPHAL, Apr 17: All Manipur Rickshaw Drivers and Pullers’ Association celebrated its 12th foundation day anniversary at GM Hall today with family members leading the gathering in offering floral tribute at the portraits of departed members of the Association.

Presenting the keynote address, Association secretary Th Basanta stated that movement for unifying rickshaw pullers to air their grievances began from the 1990s along with a rickshaw rally.

The movement intensified as rickshaw pullers struggled to find source of livelihood after restrictions were imposed in entering the main commercial areas which finally culminated in the formation of the Association on this day in 2002, he said.

While highlighting inconveniences faced by the rickshaw pullers such as harassments by police personnel and customers arguing over fare, Basanta said inspite of the adverse working condition and hardships in supporting respective families members of the Association had been taking part in major issues of the State including participation during agitations related to demand for scrapping of the draconian AFSPA 1958 and protest demonstrations  in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama.

He also rued alleged inaction on the part of the Government with regard to providing parking slots for motor vehicles in most of the commercial areas while rickshaws are denied similar facilities.

Speaking at the occasion, social worker O Malesh described rickshaw pullers as the true working class people of the society.

Stating that he used to ply rickshaw for livelihood, Malesh expressed that due to his previous association in the trade he has strong desire to serve the under-privileged section of the society.

He further suggested that as the Government exists to ensure welfare of its citizens, grievances of the rickshaw pullers should be addressed through appropriate measures.

In his address, Association president Sarat Leihaothabam explained that decline in the number of its members from the past record of 7000 is due to space crunch as parking areas reserved for rickshaws are being gradually occupied by vehicles of various types.

Expressing concern that in case such a situation persist rickshaw pullers will run out of earning source, he drew the attention of Imphal Municipal Council authorities to reserve parking slots exclusively for rickshaws.

An entertainment program by noted artistes was also organized in connection with the celebration.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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