Police fire to disperse angry commuters in India

NEW DELHI, Reuters

Police fired in the air in the Indian capital on Tuesday to disperse angry commuters who set buses ablaze to protest against a lack of public transport, a police official said.

The shortage of public transport followed a court order forcing thousands of pollution-belching buses and taxis off the streets.

But bus operators said commuters could get a reprieve from the transport chaos on Wednesday because bus companies had been given more time to comply with the court order.

“Normal services are likely to resume tomorrow as we have been given time till April 15 to obtain special permits,” Harish Sabharwal, secretary of the Delhi State Transporters’ Association, told Reuters.

The Delhi government said it would allow transporters who are willing to shift to the cleaner new fuel to operate their buses if they obtained a special permit by April 15, the Press Trust of India reported.

On Tuesday, police fired in the air to scare away a huge mob in the southern part of the city after they torched six buses and two small shops, said Joint Commissioner of Police Amod Kanth, adding that no one was injured.

Elsewhere in the city of 13 million people, irate crowds deflated bus tires and blocked buses from moving to protest against the lack of transport and crowds stoned buses and cars, police said.

Thousands of people crowded bus stops waiting for the few buses that had obeyed the court order and converted to an environmentally friendly fuel from diesel or given a commitment to make the switch in the next six months.

Many commuters clambered on to roofs of crowded buses on Tuesday, the first working day since the deadline to convert to Compressed Natural Gas fuel went into effect on Sunday.