Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Members of Odisha Private Bus Owners' Association on Monday met Transport minister Ramesh Majhi and demanded withdrawal of case against Rishabh Tripathy, the owner of 'Maharaja' bus. At least 21 passengers were killed and 20 others injured when the Athmallik-bound ill-fated bus fell off a bridge near Angul on September 10.

The Association termed the arrest 'illegal’ and sought action against the police inspector who registered case against Tripathy.

"If an OSRTC (Odisha State Road Transport Corporation) bus meets accident, will the CMD be arrested? In urban areas if any such incident happens will the joint secretary be booked? Then the law for whom? Is this applicable for all or only for the private buses?" asked Association secretary Debendra Sahu.

Terming the arrest of Tripathy illegal, the Association members had wore black badges today. They have also threatened to go on a 24-hr strike on September 29 if the government fails to take any action in this regard.

"We are observing today as a black day. If the government do not release Tripathy, we will go on strike on 29th September," Priyabrata Tripathy, a member of the Association said.

Meanwhile Majhi said owner of the ill-fated bus has not been arrested under MVI act. He suggested that experienced drivers should be appointed as he is responsible for the lives of passengers travelling in the bus.

"The bus owner has also the responsibility to appoint a good driver who can safely drive the vehicle and reach destination. The Home department will look into the matter. We will discuss with the Home department officials in this matter and action will be taken accordingly", the minister said.

The association also threatened to resort to indefinite strike from October 7 if government fails to meet their demand by October 6.