State transport (ST) bus employees in Thane went on strike in protest against the death of the ST driver who succumbed to a heart attack after an altercation with an autorickshaw driver in Bhiwandi on Thursday. Not a single bus left the depot since 5.00 am on Friday.
On Thursday morning, Prabhakar Gaikwad, a bus driver from Bhiwandi, fought with an autorickshaw driver. He collapsed and died while he was being treated at a local hospital.
More than 80 employees staged a flash strike at Khopat, Vandana and Thane bus depots, preventing more than 70 buses from plying, thus inconveniencing commuters. Buses going to Konkan, Nashik, Shirdi, Marathwada and west Marathwada were also stuck in the depot.
“The Aurangabad high court has ruled that no private or public vehicles will be allowed to ply within 200m of the ST depot. However, vehicles such as autorickshaws and taxis ply inside the Thane depot. This obstructs buses when the drivers are trying to turn or enter the premises. In addition to this, there are petrol pumps close to the bus stop, where autos and other vehicles form queues,” said a woman employee on strike.
She added that the employees have demanded that the 200m rule be implemented immediately. The protesters also sought justice for Gaikwad.
“Our seniors are trying to talk to the protestors and control the situation. We were not informed about the strike. ST employees just refused to let buses leave the depot. However, commuters will not be affected as buses from other depots in Kalyan, Bhiwandi or Wada are operational and are picking up passengers from the Thane depot,” said an officer from the ST traffic control unit.