LAHORE, June 30: As many as 40 students of various colleges and universities allegedly ‘hijacked’ two buses of a private company and enjoyed a free ride on one of them by making the crew obey their orders.
The buses, owned by a private firm, Busco and being run under the Lahore Transport Company (LTC), were separately stopped by a group of around 40 students at canal road’s stop No-15 on the urban route, Thokar Niaz Baig to Jallo Park.
In both cases the students forced their entry into the buses, got them vacated and ordered the crew members to drive them on.
According to the company officials, the ‘hijackers’ first stopped a bus (No LES-5798) at about 2:30pm near Islamic Centre on canal road and after getting it vacated started the free ride. They threatened the bus crew members with dire consequences if they did not obey their commands, the officials said.
Meanwhile, on being informed of the ‘hijacking’ by company high-ups and some LTC officials, Muslim Town police led by a DSP got released the bus from the students at 3pm.
“After we received the information from bus crew members, we immediately alerted the police,” a company official told Dawn, adding the police responded quickly and got the bus released from students.
The official, who requested anonymity, said the same group of students later intercepted another company bus (No LES-5730) and occupied it. They warned the crew that they would set the vehicle on fire in case anyone informed the police.
“The news of another bus being hijacked panicked us. We decided to inform the police on emergency number one-five. We also remained in touch with the bus crew,” the official added.
He said this time there was no response from the police despite repeated calls made on their numbers.
Meanwhile, he said the students boarded the bus and first reached Thokar and then Mansoora Degree College where around 25 more youngsters joined them.
“Then they visited the Zoo on The Mall, a park and later the General Bus Stand (Badami Bagh). Finally, they left the bus at 7:45pm, asking the crew to go back,” the official said.
He said the incident shocked the company Chief Executive Officer Mr Perry (an American). “Our CEO, a foreign investor, is already so much worried about the situation he has been facing while running operations of about150-buses in Lahore,” he said, adding how one could expect more foreign investment in Pakistan under such circumstances.
He demanded the government should provide police security to the company buses, besides empowering and equipping the LTC enforcement wing’s inspectors.
Talking to Dawn, the Busco’s director (operations) Colonel Rizwan Ameen (retired) said, “We ask the police where they were. They neither responded our calls nor got the bus released from the students. It is just one example of lawlessness in the second largest city of the country,” he deplored.
He said such incidents would not only tarnish the country’s image in the eyes of foreign investors but might also deprive it of huge foreign investment, besides affecting those employed by the company in case of its closure.
The official demanded the authorities should take a stern action against those disrupting the transport business in the city.
When contacted, the Jamaat-i-Islami’s monitoring secretary Muhammad Shahid expressed his ignorance about involvement of Mansoora Degree College students in the incident.
“We really don’t know about this development. We will surely check and let you know,” he added. However, Shahid didn’t call back.
Talking to Dawn, Muslim Town DSP Nasir Hussain admitted he failed to act when informed of second hijacking though he got released the first bus from Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) activists. He claimed he was busy dealing with another emergency.
“Then we came to know about parking of the (second) bus outside the zoo. So we waited for the complainants to come and get the case registered against the students. But no one from their (company’s) side contacted us,” he claimed. He said the police would have surely arrested the accused if the complainants had got a case registered.