In the absence of any special transport arrangements, thousands who were in the city for the Punjab food department job exam on Sunday wandered the roads in hope and camped at the Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in Sector 43. In the mess, women not only suffered lack of means to go home but also became victims of sexual harassment.
The second shift of the exam had ended at 4.30, but even at 9pm, over 2,000 people were waiting at the bus stand, with some of them protesting and clashing with ISBT and bus staff. Police in significant number were present, but chaos prevailed. Several officials locked their respective state roadways offices and left to avoid the mess. This compounded the problems as there was hardly anyone to answer queries.
Even trains to Ambala, Saharanpur, Pathankot and Amritsar were jam-packed as students tried to catch any homeward-bound train after the end of the examination. Those who were not able to catch trains opted for buses from the ISBT in Sector 43 and 17. People were seen travelling on roof of buses in the evening. Buses going to Moga, Pathankot, Ambala, Jalandhar and Ludhiana were packed.
Lewd remarks also flew women faced physical harassment too in the rush. "There were no separate queues for women. Practically, it was impossible for women to get a ticket," said Asha Sharma, a student who had come to the ISBT-43 to board a bus for Una but had return without ticket.
Taking advantage of the situation, private buses and autos jacked up the fares and charged almost double. Private buses plying to Jallandhar from ISBT-43 charged Rs. 400 per commuter. Most of them climbed on the rooftop.