news Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 05:30
The death of a teenage girl who was allegedly pushed out of a moving bus by molesters on Wednesday evening hit headlines this morning. The revelation that the bus service was owned by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's family is a detail that seemingly does not belong in the footnotes.   The 13-year-old had reportedly boarded the bus along with her mother and younger brother in Moga, Punjab, and when the family tried to resist the molesters, she along with her mother was thrown out of the moving vehicle. While the girl succumbed to her injuries before reaching the hospital, her mother is still critical.   The private bus service which goes by the name Orbit and used by the unfortunate family is owned by Parkash Singh Badal’s son, the deputy CM Sukhbir Sing Badal. The former heads the Akali Dal of Punjab which forms part of the NDA coalition at the Centre while Sukhbir’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a Union Minister with the Modi government.   This is not the first time that the bus service owned by the Badals has come under the scanner. A series of investigations conducted by the Tribune newspaper in 2011 had revealed that private bus services in Punjab were mainly owned by a swathe of political leaders from all political parties. The report back then had stated that Sukhbir owned 99.74% stake in the Orbit bus service.   On Thursday, Parkash had termed the incident as “very unfortunate” while speaking to media. He added that he “never took interest” in the company’s business and had never even visited its office.   Reports of unsavoury incidents aboard buses owned by the family though, touch upon the callousness of those responsible for running the companies.   A report in The Hindustan Times from just over a year ago mentions that the bus conductor and driver of an Orbit bus were booked for stopping a Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) bus and forcing passengers to move into their own vehicle. The PRTC bus conductor alleged that he also faced abuse from the private bus’ staff.   An India Today report from 2009 says that while riots happened in the state, policemen were protecting ‘VIP’ buses of the state’s politicians instead of the state transport buses. As soon as riots broke out, “directives” were reportedly issued to bus drivers’ to park these buses at police stations. Armed policemen were then seen escorting the buses.   Punjab Roadways officials had told the publication back then that several of their buses had been damaged and Capt. Amarinder Singh, a former Punjab CM was quoted as saying that “The ruling politicians are concerned about their own property when the state is burning”.
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