Our agitation will continue till our main demands are fulfilled, says an agitating employee, as transport employees begin hunger strike
As part of the indefinite strike by the employees working in the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West Karnataka Transport Corporation (NWKRTC), North East Karnataka Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the employees of NEKRTC intensified their agitation across cities and towns in Kalyana Karnataka and Vijayapura district on Sunday.
Since more employees joined the agitation on the third day parking their buses either at bus stands or depots, the public transport system was completely thrown off gear. Bus stands across the region wore a deserted look with empty buses as people were already aware of the ongoing agitation.
The employees began a hunger strike to mount pressure on the government. “Our agitation will continue till our main demands are fulfilled. There is no question of going back now,” an agitating employee said.
NEKRTC is expected to be incurring ₹ 2 crore loss of revenue every day. It has around 19,000 employees and 4,000 buses. All the services, except for emergency services, had to be suspended as most of the employees participated in the strike.
The strike received external support from a few organisations and individuals. Congress leader and Humnabad MLA Rajashekhar Patil met the agitating employees in Humnabad and extended his support to the strike.
“The government should understand the problems of transport employees and positively respond to their grievances. It should consider the employees as public servants and extend all entitlements that come with that,” he said and appealed to the employees to maintain peace during the strike.
In Kalaburagi, Shramajeevigala Vedike extended its support to the strike. Members associated with the organisation staged a demonstration in support of the strike in the Kalaburagi Central Bus Stand.
“The demands of the transport employees are genuine and the government should consider them. The transport employees are working hard to ensure the safe journey of people but they themselves are deprived of their rights,” Chandrashekhar Hiremath, president of the vedike, said, during the demonstration.
Meanwhile, incidents of private transport operators exploiting helpless people by overcharging were reported from certain places.
Koppal Police were found checking private vehicles at Alavandi, Kukanur and other places and imposing fine on their drivers for overloading passengers.
Railway stations in the region saw relatively more crowds as people turned to train services in the absence of bus services.