Karnataka bus strike: NWKRTC driver dies in stone-pelting incident

Private bus operators argue with BMTC officials on plying corporation buses at Kempegowda Bus Stand in Bengaluru on Friday.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

A driver working with the North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) succumbed to his injuries after stones were pelted at the bus he was driving. The deceased has been identified as Rabeed Rasul K. Avati.

Mr. Avati, 56, was taking the bus on the Vijayapura-Jamkhandi route when unidentified persons pelted stones at the windshield. The broken pieces of glass caused a gash on the driver’s neck. Mr. Avati, who was bleeding heavily, was immediately rushed to Jamkhandi Taluk Hospital, but could not be saved.

Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi on Friday announced a compensation of ₹30 lakh and a job on compassionate grounds to a family member of the deceased. “Employees have been saying that they are conducting a peaceful strike, but they have now claimed the life of their own colleague. The incident is highly condemnable. The State government will never forgive the assaulters,” said the Minister in a press release.

Soon after the announcement, NWKRTC managing director Krishna Bajpai visited the family of the deceased and handed over a cheque for ₹30 lakh.

The KSRTC State Road Transport Corporation Employee League, the organisation observing the indefinite strike, also condemned the incident. “Our organisation is in no way linked to the incident. We have been asking employees not to resort to any kind of violence,” said R. Chandrashekar, president of the league.

Over 5,500 buses operated

Though the office-bearers of the league have been reiterating that the indefinite strike will continue till the State government meets their demands, the number of employees reporting back to duty has also been gradually increasing by the day.

On Friday, which was the tenth day of the strike, RTCs managed to run more than 5,500 buses, of which Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operated more than 2,500. On Thursday, the corporations operated over 4,000 buses.

On the other hand, the number of incidents of stone pelting on moving buses also increased. Till Friday, 80 buses had been damaged by miscreants. Officials claimed that because of the ongoing strike, RTCs had suffered a revenue loss of ₹187 crore so far.

On RTCs operating more buses daily, Mr. Chandrashekar said, “The corporations are giving distorted figures. Officials are resorting to various tactics and pressuring the bus crew to report to work. No one is voluntarily reporting back to duty.”

He also said that on Saturday, office-bears of the league would meet the Labour Commissioner and submit a requisition seeking the release of their salaries for the month of March. The RTCs have paid salary to only those employees who did not take part in the strike, he said.

Meanwhile, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation dismissed 240 employees for taking part in the strike on Friday.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 4:11:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-bus-strike-nwkrtc-driver-dies-in-stone-pelting-incident/article34338142.ece

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