Ugly taxi ‘mafia’ can mar your experience of scenic Ladakh

In 2015, a convoy of 15 cars travelling from mainland Ladakh to the famous Psong Tso lake was brutally attacked by a group of assailants with stones and sticks. Around three occupants in one of the cars suffered minor injuries.
Two years later, the dominance of miscreants hiding behind the facade of taxi drivers still lurks here.
Mrinalini Thakur (26), a stewardess by profession narrated the incident which she describes as a nightmare that took place last week.
“I and my mother along with my friend who was driving a rented car were on one of the best tours of our lives on a beautiful scenic route and mesmerizing climate, suddenly a man stopped the car midway in Karma and warned us not to continue.”
Mrinalini was carefree because the permit she got from the DC office allowed her to go ahead to this famous destination. Apart from all the legal formalities, there are very few things to worry about in Ladakh best known for its warm welcoming nature.
The incident shattered this myth when the group that stopped the car, snatched all the papers abusing repeatedly for travelling in a rented car and not by taxi. They were well-equipped with sticks and called in the association office to deal with the case.
In the office, Mrinalini, her mother and friend were forced shell out Rs 10,000 cash without any receipt and as a justification, they said “It’s our rule that you cannot travel by rented car on these routes. So, it’s mandatory to book local cabs”
Mrinalini and her mother, Sangeeta Thakur decided to make a complaint to the SSP of Ladakh. From there thankfully, they were escorted safely back to the hotel and the association leader was called upon. He apologized and returned a percentage of the cash.
The Taxi Association of Ladakh claims that the three months of the season is their only source of income. But, there is no legal clause that exists to apply the arbitrary rule.
Getting caught up in such situation and being harassed in an alien location when one is on a holiday mood can be a horrific experience. Beware of such shadows that prevail in one of India’s best travelling destinations.


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