Thousands stranded as transporters strike continue

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Jammu, Jun 10: Thousands of Vaishnodevi pilgrims and other tourists remained stranded at various places as the private transport vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir remained off the roads on the second consecutive day of ''chakka jam'' today.

About 75,000 private transporter vehicles came to a grinding halt in the entire state yesterday to protest against government's apathetic attitude towards their demand of fare hike, despite recent increase in petroleum products.

Thousands of Vaishnodevi pilgrims, other tourists and working people were stranded at various places between Jammu and Srinagar, sources said.

In consequence to the increased demand of food and shelter, the hoteliers and 'dhaba' owners have raised their prices. ''The small vehicles are charging Vaishnodevi pilgrims three times more fare to shift them to railway station,'' a source at Katra told the sources.

Jammu Tawi Railway station and the general bus stand here were overcrowded with the stranded passengers, sources said.

The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) vehicles, which were pressed into service, also seemed to have failed to contain the increased pilgrim rush following summer vacations in schools.

Acting on the call for strike given by the Jammu and Kashmir Transport Welfare Association (JKTWA), minibuses, which ply small distances in the state, the inter-district transport vehicles remained off the road.

The auto-rickshaws operators, which generally do not abide by government set fare rates and charge at their own rate, were also supporting the strike.

The complete chakka jam also revived the old-fashioned Tangas (horse-pulled carts) in the city, as several groups of tourists were seen travelling via this traditional and ''environment-friendly'' mode.

The fares of buses have not been revised since 2005 despite ''many fold increase'' in the petroleum products and spare parts of vehicles, as per JKTWA.


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