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State Sponsored Horror on Wheels

Posted in View Point

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Published on May 08, 2015 with No Comments

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Cops escort an Indo-Canadian bus, run by the firm owned by the Badals, in Jalandhar

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Ruling clan of Punjab has mastered the art of looting the state exchequer in their own way. Allegations of being involved in drugs trade, controlling the electronic media, and holding stake in the state owned Punjab Road Transport Corporation and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation keep on accumulating loses, and none of the opposition parties made any noise against the nuisance till a minor is molested out of moving bus. She dies, and her mother and brother are also thrown out. The mother too gets injured but survives the assault. No one stops for the three on the road. The young brother lying close to the dead body of her sister borrows a cell phone, and calls his father for help. The horror story is enacted in Punjab, the state that was awarded for good governance and the chief minister was awarded Padma Vidhusan, nation’s second highest civilian award. Series of events after the incidence, statements by the leaders created much and justified outrage. Wife of Sukhbir Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal Union minister in the Narendra Modi’s cabinet expressed ignorance over the ownership of the bus in question. “I don’t know… will have to check”. Incidentally, Harsimrat Badal, who patronizes “Nanhi Chhaan”, a campaign to save girls had claimed ownership in Orbit in an affidavit filed before the election campaign just a year back. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was presentably more honest. He admitted “It is our bus”.

Within six-hours of Senior Badal’s admittance, the director general of police expressed ignorance on the ownership issues of the Orbit buses; that are known to be driven recklessly in the state, the drivers don’t stop at traffic lights, highjack passengers from the state owned buses and passengers are driven out of Police stations by cops when they dare to lodge a complaint! Funnily the DGP doesn’t know who owns the bus in question! Well, all those cops in the police station need to be excused to have followed Badal’s line! Instead of acting tough on the miscreants of the crime that was another reminder of the infamous Delhi’s Nirbahaya gang rape, ministers were at their best trying to downplay the incident. Punjab’s Education Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra was grilled by protestors and media for his, “No one can stand against God’s will. Even cars and planes have accidents. We should leave all this to God.” The legislators from Moga Joginder Pal Jain went a step ahead and said “You know a lot of accidents take place. Whatever the compensation if it’s settled out of court, is agreeable to both the parties.” While saying so, he appeared more of a tout of the miscreant private company than an elected representative.

Badals would have done better by letting the rule of the law take its own course, but the ruling clan tried all the tricks of the trade including the final one where it decided to take Orbit buses off the road. The family owns many other transport companies including Dabwali Transport and recently acquired Indo Canadian Transport and the staff is made to work for all companies. The spectacle of calling off the buses till the staff is trained is nothing but an eyewash. And who would decide the drivers and conductors have been trained? Same high headed first family of Punjab who now indirectly admit that buses were being run by untrained drivers. Banana republic exemplified. Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal can’t escape responsibility by calling of his buses of Orbit Aviation off the road. In years to come the Badal government would be remembered for providing police security and escort to his buses when he as the Home Minister of the state was required to protect the masses.

This raises the larger question of conflict of interest. Is it justified for one to be in government when running a private business? Is it justified for the opposition parties to remain silent all these years and come out of hibernation just when the elections are around the corner? The incidence throws light on the common notion in India that Laws are not to be applied uniformly. If the owner of the bus in which the Nirbhaya gang-rape happened and the international cab company Uber whose taxi driver raped a passenger in Delhi could be proceeded against, why is Badals’ company left untouched?

 

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