The State-wide indefinite strike called by the employees of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was total in Dakshina Kannada district on Friday.
In contrast to the first day of the bandh, wherein a majority of the employees reported for duty, except the technical staff, most of the KSRTC employees including drivers, conductors and technical staff stayed away from duty on Friday, to support the strike. The buses operating from all the eight depots under Mangalore and Puttur divisions were completely stopped after 10 am.
The KSRTC staff at Mangalore depot informed Deccan Herald that two KSRTC buses departed to Subrahmanya early in the morning and two more buses plied to Puttur from Mangalore depot.
A few buses that departed before 10 am too returned mid-way as the employees refused to continue the duty.There was no arrival of inter-district buses too on Friday. A few inter-state KSRTC volvo buses plying between Mangalore and Hyderabd, Chennai, Ernakulam, Panaji and Mumbai arrived on time. However, a bus belonging to Mangalore depot which was plying from Chennai towards Mangalore was damaged near Kolar, but the driver safely brought the passengers to the bus stand by afternoon.
Despite the private buses operating in the district, commuters traveling to outside districts were severely affected. The passengers travelling to Madikeri, Hassan, Mysore, Bangalore, Hubli and other places were seen waiting for long time in KSRTC bus stand in Bejai hoping the buses to resume operation. A commuter, Krishnamurthy, who was waiting for Bangalore bus, said that he had planned the journey thinking that the buses would ply normally.
“As bus movement remained unaffected in the district yesterday, I expected the same today,” he said.
Mangalore Division Controller M Mahesh said that the KSRTC and Regional Transport Office had given permission to ply additional private buses from KSRTC bus stands based on the public request. “As the bus operation has been completely stopped from our division, we have allowed the private buses to travel to some of the places like Baindur and Shimoga. The Mangalore division has incurred a loss of Rs 40 lakh due to the strike.
The buses would ply normally soon after the issue is settled in the government level,” he informed.Puttur Division Controller Yashwanth said that the buses did not ply from four depots after 11 am. “We requested the school and college authorities to leave the students early and transported them back to their homes before 11 am, thus ensuring the students’ safety,” he said.
Mild lathi charge
The police resorted to mild lathi charge when a crowd of 100 employees staged stir at KSRTC bus stand in Bejai. The employees turned furious when a private bus entered the bus stand on the pretext of carrying passengers to Mysore. The employees surrounded the bus and forced the bus to move out. The police then resorted to lathi charge to disperse the angered crowd.
A KSRTC employee who did not wish to be named said that the employees in the district decided to support the strike as they were saddened over the attitude of the government, specially the State Home Minister.
“We were hoping that the government would listen to our grievances and respond positively. But we were disappointed by Home Minister’s statement who said the unions staging stir were not recognised. It is for the first time in the last 30 years of my service, that I have seen a mass strike by KSRTC employees, lasting for two days,” he said.
Another employee alleged the government of acting indifferent to the problems of KSRTC employees.
“The ministers visited bus stands and railway stations when North-East exodus happened and made all arrangements for the North East people to travel to their places, but the same ministers are not ready to listen to the grievances of the employees of their own state. We are deeply hurt,” said an employees.
Union District Unit General Secretary Praveen said that over 50,000 KSRTC employees are ready to resign to their jobs at any moment.
“The Home Minister need not suspend the employees for staging stir, but we ourselves are ready to give resignation papers. The employees are treated like slaves by the administration. We can not bear it any more,” he said.