Cab drivers allege mistreatment in tourist destinations

[ Chukhu Indu ]

ITANAGAR, 9 Apr: Many cab drivers from Shillong carrying tourists to places such as in West Kameng and Tawang districts, particularly Bomdila, Dirang, Tawang and other tourist spots, allege that they are being mistreated by hotelĀ  and homestay owners.

This allegation has come after a video showed a cab driver, who is from Tawang district but resides in Shillong, being brutally beaten up by an associate of a hotel. In the video which has since gone viral, the driver informed that he was beaten up by a man claiming that he misbehaved inappropriately towards a woman who works in the hotel. The driver was seen in the video explaining that he was asking for food in a hotel in Dirang on Sunday morning while returning from Tawang. There was an argument between the lady and the driver, and later he was beaten up severely.

Following the incident, many other drivers from Shillong shared similar incidents.

Akbar Khan, a driver from Shillong, shared an incident of Tawang where the hotel owners did not allow them to bathe inside the hotel but asked them to bathe outside. The driver said that it was chilling to bathe outside, especially during November. Akbar added that many such incidents keep happening. “We are not taken care of properly, and this usually happens when the hotel bookings are done by the tourists,” he said. Akbar also mentioned that if a driver books their tickets in advance along with the tourists, such issues do not arise.

Another driver, Amal Acharya, who has been in the cab business taking tourists to Arunachal for about 12 years, informed this daily that on December 31st last year, they were with a group of tourists in a hotel in Dirang when the hotel owner came in with bamboo sticks chasing all of them because they were making loud noises. The driver said that there was no such noise.

Tsering Wange, Chief Advisor of Arunachal Pradesh Tour Operator Association, who, contrary to the reported incidents, stated that Tawang, Bomdila and other places in these two districts are the only places where the drivers are given free accommodation with food. Most of the drivers are from Guwahati. There are many other cities where they take extra charges for the drivers too.

“We have not set any kind of agreements, but it is understood that hospitality is provided to the drivers by the respective owners, be it hoteliers or homestays.”

This daily also contacted All Arunachal Pradesh Transport Federation president Dobing Sonam, who stated that he has not heard any such complaints from the drivers, although he acknowledged that such instancesĀ  may take place. He said, “If we have received any complaints as such, they are going to be looked into,” said Sonam.

Speaking to Namge Tsering, the owner of Hotel Tsepal Yangzom in Bomdila, informed that food and lodging are free for all the tourist drivers in his hotel.