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Volvo bus protest: Haryana Roadways workers lathicharged

By Staff
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Hisar, May 4 (UNI) Haryana Roadways employees were today lathicharged by the police when they tried to prevent two luxury Volvo coaches from leaving the general bus stand here, for the inaugural runs to Chandigarh and New Delhi.

According to the police, 50 protesting employees were rounded up, of which 22 were arrested after an FIR was registered against them.

The remaining employees were let off by the cops.

Police officials claimed that 10-12 employees were injured in the lathicharge. However, this claim was contested by Mr Ramesh Saini, General Secretary of the Roadways Karamchari Sangh who said that 98 protesting workers were hurt of which two--Dalbir Singh and Balbir Singh were seriously injured and had to be hospitalised.

Police restored to lathi charge when the protestors lay down in front of the two Volvo coaches just minutes before they were to be flagged off by Transport officials for New Delhi and Chandigarh, for the inaugural runs. Some of the employees were lifted by the cops and put inside the police vans and taken to the police station.

The two buses later left the bus stand with police escorts on their respective routes.

The employees were protesting against introduction of luxury Volvo coaches on the Hisar-Chandigarh and Hisar-New Delhi route as they claimed that financially these were not viable. The employees are demanding that instead of introducing the luxury coaches, efforts should be made to improve the existing delux coach services to Chandigarh and New Delhi, which were also running at losses.

Later after the lathicharge, the Roadways workers boycotted duty and blocked all entry and exit points to the bus stand, not allowing any bus to leave or enter the bus stand. The Haryana Karamchari Maha Sangh and Sarv Karamchari Sangh have decided to abstain from duty till the arrested workers were not released.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) condemned the police action, calling it brutal and unprovoked.

It said more than 40 workers were severely injured. Many were hit on the head. All those leading the anti-privatisation protest were arrested, it said.

Protests at other bus depots against the police action was 'spontaneous', it added.

It demanded that officials who ordered the use of force against the ''peaceful'' protestors be suspended from service. Moreover, compensation should be paid to the injured workers, it said.

The Government should sort out the issue through talks with the worker's unions instead of trying to crush the agitation through use of force, the CITU said.

UNI XC HS VN SHB VC1558

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