A day after Maharahstra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray warned that arrogant auto rickshaw unions would attract public ire, reports of attacks on auto rickshaws have been surfacing from different parts of Mumbai.
An auto driver at Ghatkopar was assaulted and his vehicle vandalised when he refused a passenger. In another incident, an auto driver at Vikhroli was also attacked. However, as of now it is not known whether the perpetrators of the attack are MNS activists or irate passengers. There are also unconfirmed reports of three auto rickshaws being set on fire.
On Tuesday, Raj Thackeray had come down heavily on striking auto unions saying their strike was inconveniencing the public and that their demands were not in conformation with the law. He had said that auto rickshaws and taxis would have to install electronic meters.
On Wednesday, MNS activists put up posters in various parts of the city warning auto rickshaw drivers of a face-off with MNS workers if they continue to be arrogant.
More than sympathising with the public, Thackeray's outbursts against rickshaw and taxi unions is due to the fact that a majority of the drivers are immigrants who have illegally obtained vehicle permits.
Ahead of the Mumbai civic elections in February 2012, Thackeray has found an opportunity to rekindle his campaign against north Indians that his party is known for, a political observer said.