Published On : Sat, May 2nd, 2015

Orbit buses banned in Punjab after outcry everywhere – including Parliament

Sukhbir Badal
All the spontaneous protests against the Badal family that owns the Orbit Bus Company have shown results. The Punjab government has been forced to announce a ban on the Orbit Company bowing to public demand.

This outcome shows how one determined man can take on the might of a government and a party and get action. We are speaking of Sukhdev Singh, the killed teenager’s father.

Earlier in the day the family of 13-year-old Arshdeep Kaur, who died after being thrown off a bus by her alleged molesters, on Friday turned down the Rs 20-lakh compensation offered by the government and demanded strict action against the owners of the vehicle. Protests continued over the gruesome incident with Opposition Congress and AAP activists joining the family to stage a demonstration in front of the Moga civil hospital where Arshdeep’s mother, who was also molested and shoved out of the vehicle, is undergoing treatment.

The four accused, including supposedly the driver and conductor, were arrested yesterday in connection with the the case  and were produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class Pratima Mahajan, who remanded them in police custody till May 4. Sources said Agriculture Minister Tota Singh tried back channel negotiations with the family through his associates and offered Rs 20 lakh as compensation to the family. The government also offered a job of a ‘sewadar’ in a corporation or a board to the girl’s father, Sukhdev Singh. However, Sukhdev declined the offer and refused to cremate the body. The girl’s body has been kept in a mortuary at Singhawala village and the family has not allowed the authorities to conduct the post-mortem. The family is insisting that the owners of the bus, Orbit Aviation, be booked in connection with the offence and its road permits be cancelled, a demand vociferously supported by the AAP.

The issue had rocked Parliament also where Congress and AAP MPS had raised vociferous demands for the banning of Orbit bus Company.

The also demanded  the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee to probe other alleged acts of omission by the firm owned by the ruling Akali Dal family of the state. Speaking on the adjournment (of LS proceedings) motion Congress MP, Ravneet Bittu  had moved this morning on the issue, he called for a ban on Orbit on the lines of the one imposed on Uber Taxi Services following sexual assault of a girl by an Uber taxi driver. “The Orbit transport company owned by the ruling Akali Dal Badal family of the state must be immediately banned just like Uber was. The Speaker should also constitute a joint parliamentary committee to visit Punjab and get the first hand information on other criminal acts of Orbit drivers.  “This transport company has unleashed road terrorism in the state and many people have died in the past due negligence of Orbit drivers,” Ludhiana MP Bittu alleged while Union Minister Harsimrat Badal, daughter in law of Punjav CM Parkash Singh Badal, stood in her seat attempting to intervene. She also questioned Bittu for naming the Badals in the House.

The Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had disallowed questions on this issue in the zero hour.

Sumitra Mahajan  had also appealed to the opposition not to politicize the issue arising from a grave tragedy and not to name anyone. “Parliamentary conventions demand that MPs should not accuse in the House people who are not part of the House. Also we should desist from politicizing a tragedy,” Mahajan said. Earlier in the Zero Hour at noon, Congress MPs Bittu and Satokh Choudhry and AAP members Bhagwant Mann and Dharamvir Gandhi stormed the well of the House demanding time to raise the issue. After the Speaker disallowed them, they forced a brief adjournment of the House which recommenced to take up the Finance Bill.

Tempers ran high on the streets of Punjab with effigies of Badal being burnt and candle marches in memory of the teenager who lost her life in the tragedy while her younger brother was forced to watch on.

Finally the Dy CM of Punjab was forced to order the buses of Orbit off the road with “immediate effect”.