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Return of night bus to fight surge in crime

- Darbhanga authorities to resume overnight service for safety of commuters

Commuters in the district headquarters will be safe in night with police reintroducing the overnight bus service.

“We shall resume the bus service tonight (Tuesday) as it helps commuters in the night travel safely,” Darbhanga range deputy inspector-general (DIG) of police Sudhanshu Kumar told The Telegraph.

The bus was introduced on February 20 last year by then superintendent of police Vikas Vaibhav as a part of community policing scheme. It used to ferry people who arrived at Darbhanga railway station in the north of the city to Laheria Sarai Chowk in the south.

However, the service was discontinued — though never officially withdrawn — after Vaibhav left the district in November to join National Investigation Agency in Delhi.

A spurt in nocturnal crime rate prompted the authorities to resume the service.

Sources said there are very few options for travellers in the night.

The few autorickshaws charge exorbitant fares. They are not completely safe either, as passengers on autorickshaws have reported incidents of snatching and theft.

“The night bus will instil confidence among the passengers and dispel fear. Also, as the service is provided by the police, it is free,” said Kumar.

The DIG added it was essential to re-introduce the service as the number of crimes committed at night on the town’s street has increased.

“Crime, particularly loot, snatching and robbery, which have become common over the past few weeks can be averted if the service is introduced,” said Kumar.

He added that the town sergeant of police is responsible for the operation of the bus. “A senior police officer is supposed to check it from time to time. Why this was not done and why the service became defunct, though it was not officially withdrawn needs to be investigated,” said the DIG.

Sources said mechanical faults in the bus and lack of drivers for the service had led to it becoming defunct.

The bus used to make two trips between 11pm and 4am. It covered more than 20km and picked and dropped passengers from Income Tax Chowk, Bhandar Chowk, Bela Mor, Kaiderabad Bus Stand, Hasan Chowk, Mirzapur, Donar Chowk, Allalpatti and Medical Chowk.

Residents of the town have welcomed the return of the night bus.

“When the service was started in February last year, we were very enthusiastic about it. It not only instilled a sense of security among the passengers but also reduced the number of crimes at night,” said Rajesh Kumar Jha, a resident of Mishra Tola.

He added: “After it was withdrawn, the rate of nocturnal crime has gone up again. We hope the service will be as good in its second term as it was in the first.”

The success of the Darbhanga bus service also inspired a similar facility in Kishanganj, which is runn- ing successfully.


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