Public transport services in the state were paralysed as Haryana Roadways employees went on a two-day strike Tuesday to protest the state government’s decision to introduce 720 private buses in the roadways fleet under a scheme of the hiring of buses on kilometer basis. The strike will continue on Wednesday too. Haryana Roadways Employees Coordination Committee member and senior leader Sarbat Singh Punia claimed it was a “historical strike” in which 19,000 employees participated. “As many as 4,000 buses, including Volvo buses, remained off road in Haryana,” said Punia.
He added: “Instead of offering to start a dialogue with the agitators, the government has resorted to lathicharge. Not only this, as many as 176 employees have been arrested across the state.” The employees have demanded release of the arrested union leaders. They have called an emergency meeting on Wednesday to decide future course of action.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Haryana DGP B S Sandhu claimed that the police did not lathicharge protesters, though about 70-80 persons were taken into custody as a preventive measure at different places.
The powerful associtions of roadways’ employees, which had observed successful strikes in 2018 (August), 2017, 2016 and 2015 also on almost similar issue, term the government move as aimed towards privatising of transport services. However, government has been insisting that it can’t arrange government buses for all 32 lakh passengers in Haryana. Currently, about 12 lakh passengers commute in over 4000 government buses and 1,000 buses of private players.
Haryana’s Transport Minister Krishan Panwar has termed the roadways employees strike as “unsuccessful.” “As many as 50 per cent of the buses were plying on roads today. The department would take action against those employees who are on strike. We won’t take back the decision of the state Cabinet in which the government had decided to hire 720 private buses on kilometre basis,” he added.