Geetanjali Gayatri, Tribune news service
Chandigarh, June 15. Misery poured upon thousands of commuters travelling by state-run Haryana Roadways buses to Delhi here today, as the service came to a grinding halt at entry points to the National Capital.
No roadways bus plied beyond the four main entry points to Delhi – Kundli (Sonepat), Badarpur (Faridabad), Tikri (Sirsa) and Siroli (Jaipur) – in response to a token strike call by employees against the alleged “high-handedness” of the Delhi Police and “indiscriminate challaning”.
As harried commuters were left to fend for themselves at these entry points to the National Capital, private bus operators and auto-rickshaws did brisk business. Roadways’ buses of 24 depots and 13 sub-depots lined up along the roadside and at vacant plots on either side of the roads as a “show of strength” before heading back to their respective depots.
Chaos ruled at all entry points as there was a scramble among passengers, forced to alight at the borders, to find a connecting mode of conveyance to take them to Delhi. In Faridabad and Gurgaon, a huge rush was witnessed at Metro stations as commuters, turned away by the roadways, made a beeline for these stations.
The Joint Action Committee of the Haryana Roadways Workers’ Union pegged the loss at Rs 50 lakh and patted itself on the back for its “success”. Its president, Sarbat Punia, maintained that this was the beginning of a long-drawn fight against “injustice” at the hands of the Delhi Police.
“We will gherao the Director General, Transport, on June 28. We not only want the issue of challaning to be resolved with the Delhi Police but also want the department to pay up for the ‘unjust’ challans issued to the drivers. They earn about Rs 10,000 on an average.
If the Delhi Police issues four challan tickets worth Rs 3,000, they end up paying from their pockets. These challans are taking place only because we resist free travel by Delhi cops in our buses,” another leader, Dalbir Nehra, said.
The Department, concerned about the “avoidable” harassment to the 50,000- commuters who use Roadways buses to take them to and from Delhi in the over 1,000 trips, said the protest by the employees sullied the image of the Roadways.
Officials of the Transport Department and the Police Department maintained that at a meeting with the Delhi Police yesterday, it had already been decided that the challaning would be video-graphed while the Delhi Police even agreed to give 10-odd “no challan” days to the Haryana Roadways employees to enable them to comply with various rules.
Director-General, Transport, Arun Kumar, had yesterday, appealed to the union to call off the protest in the interest of commuters as talks were underway with the Delhi Police to address their grievances.