All private buses engaged in ferrying schoolchildren in the tricity will be off the road on Monday. The decision was taken at a meeting of Chandigarh School Bus Operators’ Association held in Sector 38 on Sunday in protest against the recommendation made by the Child Rights Commission on Saturday to book the transporter as well as the administrator of Stepping Stones School, Sector 38, in connection with the alleged molestation of a five-year-old girl by the conductor.
In the Sunday meeting, as many as 150 transporters from the tricity took part and expressed their resentment against the Stepping Stones School authorities’ decision to cancel the contract with the transporter, Amrik Singh. The school had issued a notice to the contractor on Saturday evening and cancelled the contract on Sunday.
Agitated over the series of events, an emergency meeting was called by the president of Chandigarh School Bus Operators’ Association, in which it was decided that no private school bus would ply in the tricity on Monday.
Association president Manjit Singh said the conductors and drivers of buses ferrying schoolchildren were feeling insecure.
“We received numerous calls from the drivers and conductors of the school buses, who said they didn’t want to continue with their jobs. They said anybody having a grudge with the bus staff could make such serious accusations,” Singh said.
Nirmal Singh, general secretary of the association, said the principal of Stepping Stones School and the transporter were being made the scapegoat and the recommendations made by the child rights commission were uncalled for.
“We are not defending the conductor and in case his crime is proved, he should be punished. There is no justification in holding the principal and the transporter responsible as they had sacked the accused conductor even before his crime was yet to be proved. We are submitting a memorandum to the administration to provide us the drivers, conductors and the female attendants to avoid such situations in future,” Nirmal said, adding that the guideline issued by the apex court for hiring woman attendants was not practical.
“When driver would drop all the children, the woman attendant would also be alone in the bus with the male staff of the bus and the possibility of any mishappening with her cannot be ruled out. Rather than being harsh towards us, the administration should find some practical solution to deal with the safety aspect of schoolchildren,” he added.
He even slammed the state transport authorities for challaning numerous school buses in the past two days. He said that if the administration would not adhere to their demands, then the strike would be for an indefinite period.
Moreover ICSE results are scheduled to be declared on Monday. Naresh Handa, chief coordinator of St Xavier’s School said that the school would remain open on Monday and the parents would have to drop and pick their wards.
There was anxiety among parents after coming to know about the strike. Pankaj Kaushal, a resident of Panchkula, said that she would prefer her daughter to stay at home as the situation might get worse.
800 Total pvt school buses
30,000 Students travel daily
Arrangements in place: police
SSP (crime) Sukhchain Singh Gill said that after getting intelligence inputs, they have already alerted the force to remain on the toes to maintain the law-and-order situation in the city.
Operators’ main demands
1) No legal action should be initiated against the administrator of the Stepping Stones School and the transporter as recommended by the Child Rights Commission.
2) Administration should hire a private company in order to provide conductors, drivers and woman attendants to the transporters.