...... Kerala autowallas fight for their 'mundus' KOZHIKODE: Police and autorickshaw drivers in Kerala's Wayanad are caught in a 'mundu' row, which now threatens to spill over to the streets. Drivers' unions maintain that a move to enforce a dress code and prevent them from wearing the traditional mundu (dhotis) to work from June 1 is an infringement on their rights and an affront to Kerala culture. The unions plan to protest the decision by making all their members, mainly autorickshaw drivers, wear the traditional Kerala dress. They have also threatened to take their vehicles off the roads if police persist with the implementation of the code. Police said the decision was taken in view of the "undignified dressing" followed by mundu-clad auto drivers. "We have noticed that many autorickshaw drivers wear the mundu folded and tied high up the waist. They also walk around with dhotis and lungis folded up, causing discomfort to women and families," said Wayanad police chief A V George. "We have decided to strictly enforce the code for drivers of public transport vehicles in the motor vehicle act in the district, which would require all drivers to shift to khaki pants" He said those who refuse to fall in line will be fined. Wayanad RTO M P Ajith Kumar said though the Motor Vehicle Act stipulates that drivers should wear khaki shirt and pants, the department had not so far insisted on it. "Around 50% drivers in the district still wear mundu to work. But the way in which some drivers wear it is demeaning to the profession." Drivers' unions point out that the government has asked its employees to wear traditional clothes, including mundu and handloom sarees, to offices on Saturdays. "We have decided not to cooperate with the decision and would ask all drivers to wear traditional dress en masse if the police take any action," said Motor Workers Union president T A Reji. "A majority of drivers, especially old men, are accustomed to wearing mundu and it is not easy for them to shift to pants. We fail to understand why the police are being overzealous." But many women welcomed the police move. "The way in which many auto drivers wear the mundu is annoying," said Silja V P, a local resident. "Often we have to walk with our heads down through the auto stands, let alone travelling in the vehicle. The decision should be strictly implemented and auto drivers should cooperate with the authorities."