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Hand-pulled rickshaws, largely seen as symbols of inhumanity, are here to stay in Kolkata. In 2006, the then chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, announced that hand-pulled rickshaws would be banned and that rickshaw pullers must be rehabilitated. This resulted in strong protests and strikes from the rickshaw pullers.
About 90% of the rickshaw pullers of Kolkata come from the Indian state of Bihar, particularly from its Muslim minority, they embark in a long migration to the city, far away from their families and homes, in order to earn a better living.
No new licenses are allowed by the city of Kolkata, and existing licenses cannot be transferred to new vehicles. In this way old and broken rickshaws cannot be replaced and their number is destined to dwindle each year. In 2005 more than 20,000 rickshaws existed, nowadays probably only 5000 are still circulating.