The strike called by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) resulted in hundreds of cabbies pulling their vehicles off the roads.

Lengthy queues were seen in front of auto rickshaw and cycle rickshaw stands while buses plied at full capacity. Private car operators made a killing as travelers and tourists had no option but to pay a hefty price for small distances.

Air-conditioned buses were the chosen choice by commuters despite their comparatively higher fare due to the heat and humidity.

Traffic was thrown off-gear as the agitating cabbies took out rallies and gathered at arterial roads to protest against alleged police excesses and harassment over no-refusal issues. Among others, cab unions also put forth their demand to drop legal proceedings against 450 taxis.

According to CITU leader and former minister Anadi Sahu, the strike would carry on Thursday if the state government decided to crackdown on the striking cabbies on Wednesday.

With the taxi unions and state government on the warpath, passengers have resorted to carpools and pre-bookings of private cars.

"The tussle between the taxi unions and government has pushed us to consider carpooling. Atleast, that way we can ensure our daily routine is not disrupted. One day it is the taxi strike, another day it is a bus strike. It is a major harassment for us," a Kolkata-based IT professional said.

Taxi drivers have pulled out their vehicles from the city roads on five earlier occasions in less than a month by calling wildcat strikes or protest walks as part of their movement against alleged police ‘excesses’.

At the centre of the dispute is the government decision to increase the fine for passenger refusal from Rs.100 to Rs.3,000 to combat repeated complaints of refusals.

The government earlier this month arrested 22 drivers for vandalism as they damaged taxis which did not heed their call and continued plying. They were released on bail after spending four days in jail. Around 37,000 taxis ply in the city daily.

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