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Failing to Make Ends Meet, Bengaluru's Cab & Auto Drivers Post Selfies with Empty Utensils in Protest

Drivers who haven't been on the road in over a month started an online campaign by posting selfies of themselves on social media wearing a black band on their heads and holding empty utensils.

Drivers who haven't been on the road in over a month started an online campaign by posting selfies of themselves on social media wearing a black band on their heads and holding empty utensils.

Drivers said their income is down to zero and with no savings left they have no idea how wade through the crisis, adding the state government has not provided any kind of support.

Bengaluru: Struggling to make ends meet, cab and auto drivers from across the IT city of Bengaluru decided to come up with a unique form of protest to highlight their plight during the lockdown.

Drivers who ply for aggregator services like Ola and Uber, and who haven't been on the road in over a month started an online campaign by posting selfies of themselves on social media wearing a black band on their heads and holding empty utensils. Some of them even had their children with them in the photographs.

The president of Ola-Uber Drivers and Owners Association Tanveer Pasha said their income is down to zero and with no savings left they have no idea how wade through the crisis.

“The state government has not provided us any support. We don’t know if the lockdown will be further extended. Where are we supposed to go? So we are protesting by showing the government our empty vessels as we have nothing left to feed our families" said Pasha.

Bengaluru has over 5 lakh auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers whose lives have come to a grinding halt since March 24 when the nationwide lockdown was announced to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

About 1.75 lakh drivers work with cab aggregators. While Ola initially helped with some provision kits for a few of its employees, the drivers were hoping for a more substantial relief in terms of loan waivers or monetary compensation.

"We have been hearing in the news that other state governments like Delhi and Kerala have helped their drivers and given them some kind of package. Why is the Karnataka government not coming to our aid? We pay such high taxes, the government benefits from the fuel that we fill, but even during such a crisis, they cannot help us" said Mohammad Pasha, an airport taxi driver.