The oath-taking took place on Friday after the police cracked down on students who were wielding weapons and creating ruckus in public.

Cops make Chennais bus route thalas do parents promise vow to lead reformed lives
news Crime Friday, July 26, 2019 - 13:39

“We promise not to engage in any undesirable activities. We promise to make our parents proud. If we break these promises, we will surrender ourselves to legal action.”   

Around 25 ‘route thalas’ (heads for each bus route) from various colleges in Chennai solemnly undertook this oath on Friday. The oath was administered by the Chennai Police, in the presence of the Joint Commissioner of Police (East) R Sudhakar. The oath comes as the latest action by the police after clashes erupted between two groups of students from Pachaiyappas College, which left two students injured.

A ‘route thala’ is the leader of the students commuting in a particular bus or train route. The title, given to students by themselves, allegedly grants special privileges to the ‘route thala’ but also leads to frequent clashes between different student groups commuting on the same route. In the past, similar clashes have erupted between the students of Pachaiyappas College, Presidency College and New College in Chennai.

The students involved in such clashes often sport dangerous weapons such as billhooks, machetes and knives and are known for harassing passengers in the bus. These conflicts have been ingrained in the psyche of the students in colleges that numerous past complaints from the public have not resulted in any decrease in such instances.

Friday’s oath-taking initiative came after R Sudhakar, the Joint Commissioner of Police, identified around 90 such ‘route thalas’ and held a meeting with the principals of the three colleges in the city.

In the meeting, it was decided that students who indulge in violence and create public nuisance in the name of ‘route thalas’ or otherwise will have to compulsorily undergo community service. This service will include making them regulate road traffic on busy stretches. It was also decided that the police stations will open a crime sheet on regular offenders and that they would need to execute a surety bond stating that they will desist from such activities in future. Those who violate this bond will be detained under the Goondas Act. The police also said that they will deploy police mentors in these colleges to sensitise students and parents about the repercussions of engaging in activities that cause public nuisance.

This crackdown comes after college rivalry among the students of Pachaiyappas college spilled on to the streets. The clash was reportedly over ‘route thala’ title and a few young men were seen wielding machetes and attacking two students in broad daylight in Arumbakkam on Tuesday.