The last rickshaws of Kolkata – in pictures

Kolkata, one of Asia’s great melting pots, is the last place on Earth where rickshaw wallahs still haul people and goods through narrow lanes. With just hundreds left, Palani Mohan’s images capture them as they disappear.

Almost all of the pullers originate from the state of Bihar, one of India’s poorest. They come here looking for work, leaving their families behind in the villages. It’s a hard and lonely existence, and one that is slowly dying out. The government of West Bengal state has described the jobs of the rickshaw pullers as ‘barbaric’, ‘despicable’ and ‘inhuman’. There is no place in the world today, it says, for ‘human horses’. Men with bare feet pulling others for 18 hours a day in the heat and the rain, for just a few rupees. But the city’s residents disagree

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