Budgam: In the scorching heat of August, unchecked overloading in buses goes on unabated in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, courtesy official apathy.
The overloading not only causes inconvenience to passengers but is also a major cause of women commuters’ sexual harassment.
Anjum, a college student, said, “No one can understand the agony a woman faces while standing amidst men in an overloaded bus.”
“Even when girls are sitting on seats, they are neither comfortable nor safe, but it is an agony if you have to stand in a highly overcrowded vehicle,” she added.
Another student, Rabiya Bashir, from Khag area rued that “we are being crammed in a vehicle like a flock of sheep in a cattle shed. It is not even possible to identify the culprit in such circumstances,” she added.
Raja, a teacher who travels the Magam route daily, said there should be separate buses for women because “the separate seats for women in public transport vehicles are always occupied by men, and women have to wait for the good will of some men who leave the seats for them”.
She added that although drivers are being fined for different offences, the authorities have failed till date to take harsh measures against drivers for overloading.
“If people are also to blame for overloading, it shows there is something wrong in the management of the transport system that makes people travel in overloaded vehicles,” said Masroof Sofi, a student of Magam College.
Besides, the commuters said, the drivers don’t move an inch till the vehicles are overloaded at the bus stop itself.
Pickpockets also find it opportune to practice their trade in overcrowded buses.
“I have been in trauma since I joined college. The reason is not that I am not comfortable here. No! The reason is the nightmarish travelling in public transport,” said a nursing student.
“The unbridled sexual harassment is particularly an issue I am forced to confront each and every day on overloaded buses,” she added.
“Only a few months have passed since I joined college, but believe me, I am tired of seeing men occupying space in women’s places, where harassment usually occurs when men crowd the space.”
Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic (Rural), Muzaffer Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that there are two issues.
“First, if there is a problem in management, I will ask the team deputed there and will deal with it. Second, if there is a less number of vehicles, then it is better to talk to the ARTO concerned,” he said.
Meanwhile, ARTO Budgam Mubashir Jan said that there is a dearth of public transport in the entire district that results to inconveniences to the common masses and the student community in particular.
“Since last 10 years, only one bus has been registered and five mini-buses, so how is it possible that it will cater to the whole population?” he added.
He added, “As per Supreme Court guidelines, the college authorities have to provide their own transport facility for the students. Instead, they transfer the funds to somewhere else and leave them in trouble.
“If they would provide them transport, there would be respite for the general public and well,” Jan added.