Private buses stay off roads as strike against Toll Plaza enters 5th day

Seva Dal, Sena, RJD protest, torch effigies

Excelsior Correspondent
SAMBA, Oct 18: The private passenger bus service along the Jammu-Pathankot Highway remained suspended for the fifth consecutive day today in protest against the newly set up Toll Plaza in Samba district.
However, the people in other parts of the Jammu region heaved a sigh of relief as All J&K Passenger Transporters Association (AJKPTA) called off their indefinite strike after holding a meeting with a senior Government official here.
While the private passenger vehicles went off the roads along the Jammu-Pathankot Highway on Monday against the Toll Plaza at Sarore in Samba, the AJKPTA-sponsored indefinite ‘chakka jam’ hit normal life in the Jammu region on Thursday with commuters facing tremendous hardship in reaching their destinations.

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However normal life remained paralysed for sixth consecutive day in Samba, Kathua districts as transporters of passenger buses continued their strike against installation of Toll Plaza at Sarore and charging of hefty amount as Toll Tax from passenger buses. The daily passengers including employees and students had to bear the brunt of the continued strike of passenger vehicles in the twin districts.
The Kathua-Jammu Bus Association, president, Kuldeep Singh said they have decided to continue the strike till their demand for abolishment of the Toll Tax at Sarore is met.
“We want removal of the Toll Post because it is an additional burden on transporters, particularly the buses plying on the Jammu-Kathua Highway,” Singh added.
“We are being charged Rs 225 for one side crossing and are not in a position to pay Toll Tax given the increase in insurance, permit, fine on traffic violations and fuel prices,” Singh said, requesting the State administration to consider their demand.
He said passenger vehicle operators can’t pay such a hefty Toll Tax and hence are left with no option but to remain off the roads. “We have to pay Rs 25 to 30 as tax in each Municipality at Kali Bari, Kathua , Hiranagar, Samba, Vijaypur and Bari Brahmana and with the installation of Toll Plaza a heavy burden has been put on us which we are not able to pay,. If we will pay such a hefty sum as Toll Tax then our family members have to starve as we can’t save any thing for making our both ends meet”, he added.
He said our pleas have fallen on deaf ears as no one at the helm of affairs looks into the problem with a human heart. Singh said “even no body in administration bothered to listen us by calling us for talks to settle the issue”.
Same were the views of K D Singh president 2×2 Jammu, Katra, Udhampur and Kathua route buses. He said how can the bus operators pay Rs 245 Toll at Sarore and then same amount at Ban Toll Plaza?. This is not justified. If Government has to go ahead with the decision then what problem it has in enhancing the bus fare as by paying Rs 225 Toll Tax at Sarore there should be increase in fare by Rs 5 per passenger, otherwise the passenger transporters are unable to ply their vehicles and we will continue the strike.
Meanwhile, various political organizations held protest at various places today also demanding immediate abolition of Toll Plaza at Sarore.
Congress Seva Dal activists held a protest rally at Vijaypur and torched the effigy of Union Surface Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma.
The rally was held under the leadership of Raj Kumar Bhagat, district president, Seva Dal, Samba. Vice president, Seva Dal, Vijay Sharma said that if the Toll Plaza is not abolished the Seva Dal will launch hunger strike.
Another protest was held by Shiv Sena, Bala Sahib Thackeray at Sarore Toll Plaza. Led by State president of the party Manish Sawhni, Sena activists criticized the Narendra Modi Government and BJP State leaders for putting the people of Jammu to unnecessary trouble by installing Toll Plaza at Sarore.
Sawhni, while addressing the protesters said this is the first gift to people by BJP Government at Centre after abrogation of Article 370.
Sawhni said almost all parties of Jammu including BJP have voiced their concern against installation of Toll Plaza but Modi Government is ignoring it altogether. He warned that if the demand of people of Jammu will be ignored then Sena will be the first party to come to streets and protest against the conversion of State to UT. All senior leaders of the party participated in the protest.
The members of Kathua Bus Union and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) held a protest demonstration against the opening of Toll Plaza at Sarore in Samba district. The protest was led by State president of RJD Manohar Dogra. They raised slogans against the Government and also torched the effigy of Union Minister, Dr Jitendra Singh. They demanded immediate abolition of Toll Plaza.