Over 55 private inter-state luxury buses from Kasaragod to Malappuram have stopped services to protest against the Kerala government’s surprise checks, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. The strike is against the Kerala Motor Vehicles Department’s (MVD) surprise checks on private buses in the state, following the attack on passengers in the Kallada bus which took place last week.
The bus strike in Malabar was launched after operators protested against the unnecessary fines being levied on them.
“Ever since the Kallada incident, the government has been troubling all the other bus operators. You can’t issue fines like this. Otherwise, let the government operate buses. We are going to stop here,” Abdulnasar, a member of the Luxury Bus Owners Association in Kerala, told Asianet News.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident where three men travelling in the Kallada bus from Alappuzha to Bengaluru were brutally assaulted by the bus staff, the Kerala MVD cracked down on the luxury inter-state private bus services.
The department launched ’Operation Night Riders’ to keep a check on illegal activities and regular flouting of rules by these private buses and to monitor ticket booking agencies of these buses. As many as 46 bus services were charged with fines following inspections by the MVD, according to reports.
Several passengers traveling to Bengaluru from the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kasaragod were left stranded after the operators cancelled buses.
To compensate for the lack of buses, the KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) and Kerala RTC pressed into service six and four buses respectively to ply the inter-state route.
‘Strike won’t scare us into halting checks’: Kerala Transport Minister
Meanwhile, at a press meet in Thiruvananthapuram, Transport Minister AK Saseendran made it clear that the Motor Vehicles Department would continue the checks on private buses.
According to reports, Saseendran said that the MVD would not be scared into stopping checks because of the ongoing strike. Arrangements were being made to increase the number of Kerala RTC and KSRTC buses plying between Karnataka and Kerala. Sixteen buses will be added to reduce the dearth of transport and ensure that passengers are not stranded.
Meanwhile, the private bus operators association has promised to hold a statewide indefinite strike if the surprise checks continue.