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Mumbai: For the first time ever, Mumbai's ‘Dabbawalas’ have suspended their services for 11 days as a precautionary measure. ‘Dabbawalas’ mostly travel in local trains and their unique service gets affected only when train services are hit.

However, though the trains are operational the association has decided to stop work until March 31.

Subhash Talekar, president, Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, “Since the state government has asked citizens to avoid public places and minimise use of public transport, we have taken the decision.”

In Mumbai, the association has about two lakh customers, who are provided tiffin boxes at their offices by 5,000 ‘dabbawallas’.

They carry their precious cargo either on foot or on bicycles and then by local trains to their famished customers.

The last time the dabbawala suspended their services was in 1974 when George Fernandes had organised a strike. Fernandes, who was popularly known as 'Bandh Samrat', managed to enforce a complete shutdown of suburban trains following his call for a nationwide strike.

Since trains were not operational during the strike, Dabbawalas too had to suspend their services,” said Talekar. Meanwhile, Shilpa Doshi, who runs a home-cook food service and delivers tiffin through ‘dabbawalas’, said, “In the last 15 days, I have incurred a loss of nearly Rs 1 lakh. Since schools are shut and some offices have allowed employees to work from home, our business is having a hard time.”

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