School van and auto operators, who have been on an indefinite strike for the past three days, on Wednesday held a protest against the district administration.
After assembling at the Ram Bagh Gardens here, hundreds of school van and auto operators held a procession in various parts of the city before sitting on a dharna outside the office of deputy commissioner Varun Roojam. The van operators, on strike after the administration rounded up ‘unsafe school vans’, specially targeted local district transport officer Lovejeet Kalsi and demanded her transfer.
Raising slogans against the DTO, the agitators alleged that they were being harassed on the pretext of of enforcing norms.
Though, the administration, which has gone more strict after the accident in Muhawa, that led to the death of seven school kids, is backing the action against ‘unsafe’ vans.
Deputy commissioner Varun Roojam said, “The DTO is just doing her job. We are very serious about the safety of schoolchildren and unsafe and outdated vans will not be allowed to move on the roads.”
On the ongoing strike by the van and auto operators, the DC said, “they have given a memorandum to us, but our stand is very clear that the vans, that do not meet the norms, will not be allowed to move on the road. But the genuine demands of the operators can be considered.”
Contrary to this, the van operators alleged that they were being harassed unduly and their agitation will be on till the administration allows them to operate their vehicles.
President of the van and auto-rickshaw operators union Ram Sharan Pal said, “We have total sympathy towards the families, who lost their children. But, it is wrong that after the accident, the DTO is impounding vans at will. We are on roads because we are being harassed.” We will not resume work till the administration assures that our vans would not be impounded wrongly, he said. After the Muhawa accident, the administration has rounded up around 45 vans.
Since, the school van operators have been on strike, parents of schoolchildren have been doing the picking-and- dropping job themselves.
Van driver thrashed, kids cry, cops remain mute spectators
As a few school vans were operating in the city. The agitators got angry and beat up a van driver near the Hall Gate area after intercepting the vehicle.
As the driver was beaten up, the children inside the van got scared and started crying on the road. Though, some cops were standing nearby, but they preferred to remain mute spectators.