Strike sees attacks on RTC crew who hit the road and damage to 60 buses

‘Protest will go on; all our associates are participating in the strike peacefully’

Updated - April 15, 2021 09:19 am IST

Published - April 15, 2021 01:40 am IST - Bengaluru

Angry protesters have pelted stones and damaged more than 60 buses, including luxury air-conditioned buses.

Angry protesters have pelted stones and damaged more than 60 buses, including luxury air-conditioned buses.

The indefinite strike by employees of the road transport corporations (RTCs), which entered the eighth day on Wednesday, has seen many incidents of bus crew being attacked allegedly by their own colleagues or family members of workers across Karnataka.

Apart from instances of assault, angry protesters have pelted stones and damaged more than 60 buses, including luxury air-conditioned buses. As many as 35 buses in the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) fleet have been pelted with stones so far.

Ensure security: CM

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has directed the Home Department to ensure that security is provided to all buses, and if possible, deploy one constable in each bus.

After videos of drivers went viral on social media, the RTCs also started taking stern action against people involved in the attacks. BMTC managing director C. Shikha said, “In Bengaluru, there were two cases of attacks on our drivers. One of the drivers at Peenay depot was assaulted by five women, including an employee of the corporation. Those who instigated the attack have been arrested, and the woman employee has been dismissed from service.”

Since the start of the strike on April 7, the police have filed more than 10 FIRs based on complaints lodged by the bus crew of the KSRTC.

“It is sad that some of the employees are involved in damaging their own buses. They are not only causing loss to the corporations but also risking the lives of passengers. Recently, in Bagepalli, a Hyderabad-bound AC bus was damaged and a passenger was injured,” said a KSRTC official, adding that in most cases windshields were broken.

A driver of a KSRTC bus said, “A few days ago, while I was driving to Mysuru, around 15 to 20 people stopped the bus at Kengeri. To embarrass me, they garlanded and touched my feet. It was done to ridicule me. Luckily, they did not damage the bus, and allowed me to go. I am from a poor background and have my own financial commitments. If I take part in the strike. I will end up losing my salary, which I need to pay my bills.”

The RTCs have suffered revenue loss of Rs. 152 crore from April 7 to 14 owing to the ongoing strike.

Those employees who have not returned to work said they would continue to strike on Thursday. The Karnataka State Road Transport Employees’ League said the strike would continue till their demands were met. President of the league R. Chandrashekar, while condemning the violence, said, “In the coming days, we will hold candlelight marches and protests outside MLAs’ houses. The government has not called us for any talks and our strike will continue till our demands are met.” Protesting employees want salaries as per the the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

He said, “We do not support any kind of violence. We have given clear instructions to all those employees associated with us not to pelt stones at buses. All our associates are participating in the strike peacefully.”

Booked for protest

Meanwhile, the Bengaluru police booked honorary president of the league Kodihalli Chandrashekar and 15 others under the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act and unlawful assembly for staging a protest at Mysore Bank circle here on Monday morning. According to the police, the protest distributed traffic movement during peak commuting hours.

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