Private bus operators protest in front of East Singhbhum SSP’s office in Bistupur on Friday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Private bus operators have decided to launch an indefinite strike from Sunday to protest against extortion in the name of Puja donations, leaving Jamshedpur commuters at the mercy of pesky auto-rickshaw drivers.
Shikshit Berozgar Mini Bus Association, the umbrella outfit of about 125 private bus operators plying on 14 routes across the steel city, took the decision on Friday to protest against the manhandling of a bus conductor, who was also robbed by youths at Bagbera on Thursday night.
A delegation of the association also staged a demonstration in front of East Singhbhum senior superintendent of police Richard Lakra’s office in the afternoon. Later, the association issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the district police to arrest those involved in the incident and initiate action against Bagbera police station officer Shailender Sinha for his inaction even after an FIR was lodged against the accused.
Conductor Ajay Kumar (30) was beaten up when he refused to pay up.
“We have received complaints of forcible donations from Sidhgora and Telco also. But, so far we sorted out the issue mutually. But, yesterday (Thursday) the youths were adamant. When our staff refused to cough up the sum, they snatched the day’s cash and punched him,” alleged association’s general secretary Sanjay Pandey.
He alleged the police was not paying due attention to their security. “We have told the district police that vehicles will be off road from Sunday if the culprits are not arrested and action is not taken against Sinha within two days,” he said.
The bus association is already upset that despite the rising fuel prices, it had not been allowed to hike fares, because of which operators were incurring huge losses.
“On top of that, we are now facing life threat,” Pandey said.
The association has also demanded security, deployment of adequate number of police officers on roads in the run up to Durga Puja to prevent incidents of forcible donations.
If the mini buses stay off the road, around 16,000 three-wheelers will have to share the burden of ferrying 1.5 lakh commuters.
East Singhbhum deputy superintendent of police (law and order) Kanhaiyan Upadhyay said they would lodge an FIR against the miscreants and take action against the accused police officer.