Alleging harassment by the Hyderabad Traffic Police, several share autorickshaw drivers from the old city area highlighted their woes to reporters on Thursday.
Stating that the police assaulted an autorickshaw driver, protesters also said that an order had been issued, that they should shift their pick-up point from the Chandrayangutta flyover, to the Peeli Dargah in Barkas.
"A sub-inspector assaulted an auto driver today (Thursday) and even tried to send him to jail. When we went and staged a protest, they left him but seized his vehicle. Despite assurances of employment by the state government, what about these atrocities on us? Many of us are contemplating suicide," one autorickshaw driver alleged.
"We are trying to raise our families with respect and honesty, but we are being forced to be criminals. What can we do, if a family is dependent on us, but is dying from hunger? If there is no solution, we will hold protests from Charminar to the airport road, until we get an answer," he added.
The 'share autos' are presently the cheapest mode of transport in the area, and would wait near the Chandrayangutta flyover for passengers to exit from the Falaknuma Railway Station and ferry them up to Pahadi Shareef.
Their main customers are commuters going to Riyasat Nagar, Hafeez Baba Nagar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal colony, Hashimabad, Bandlaguda, Barkas etc and the drivers say that they will not get any passengers if they are pushed to Peeli Dargah.
Alleging heavy challans and criminal cases from the Traffic Police, auto drivers also said that many of them had taken loans to buy their vehicle, and would not be able to pay their instalments, if this situation continued.
The drivers, who met Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) leader Amjed Ullah Khan on Thursday, were miffed as they would initially pick up passengers from Charminar.
"Due to the ongoing Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP), they were pushed back to Shalibanda. Citing traffic issues, they were again pushed further back and asked not to enter the Falaknuma bridge. Soon, they were made to pick up passengers near the Chandrayangutta flyover," Amjed said.
The MBT spokesperson also said that nearly 200 auto drivers could lose their livelihood, affecting nearly 2,000 members of their families in total.
"On one side, the TRS government is promising employment to poor families but the role of the Hyderabad Traffic Police is opposite to the state's promise," he added.
This also comes after escalating tension, as just days ago, an auto driver climbed up the scaffolding erected for restoration work at Machli Kaman in Charminar, and threatened to jump off.
The driver was protesting after the police allegedly imposed a heavy fine on him, and the incident threw traffic in the area into complete chaos.
After meeting with auto drivers, Amjed Ullah Khan also said that he would bring the issue to the notice of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Transport Minister K Mahender Reddy and senior police officials.
Repeated attempts by TNM to contact traffic police officials went unanswered.