Bareilly (UP), Jun 6 (IANS): A driver and a co-driver of UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) have been suspended with "immediate effect" after they halted the Delhi-bound 'Janrath' AC bus for a "few extra minutes" to allow two passengers to offer 'namaz'.
The incident took place on Sunday night when the UPSRTC bus, with 14 passengers, started from Bareilly terminal around 9 p.m. and took an unscheduled stop on National Highway-24 in Milak area of Rampur district.
Some passengers protested when they found the bus had halted to allow two co-passengers to offer namaz.
One of them shot a video and uploaded it on Twitter. In his complaint on Twitter, this passenger claimed that the bus stopped and two passengers stepped down and started offering 'namaz' in front of it.
Following the complaint, assistant regional manager (ARM) of UPSRTC in Bareilly, Sanjeev Kumar Srivastava, suspended driver K.P. Singh and co-driver Mohit Yadav.
The driver, meanwhile, said there were only 14 passengers in the bus and a few of them wanted to use a roadside toilet, and hence he stopped the vehicle. Then two other passengers expressed their wish to offer 'namaz' and he agreed to halt the bus for five more minutes for them.
The co-driver said, "We don't think that they have done anything wrong by offering prayers. We will fight against our suspension."
UPSRTC regional manager (Bareilly), Deepak Chaudhary, said, "Passengers of the bus, which was on way to Kaushambi (Delhi border), made a complaint to me and I had directed the ARM to look into the matter. After initial inquiry, we have suspended the driver and the co-driver, as safety and security of passengers cannot be put at risk by stopping the bus on a busy highway."
Meanwhile, the employee welfare association has backed the two suspended staff.
The association's president, Hari Mohan Mishra, said, "Employees cannot be suspended without a proper probe. In such complaints, a committee is formed and action is taken after the panel finds the person guilty. In this case, they were not even given time to explain."
No police complaint has been made in this case so far.