Kathua; Pooja Devi of Kathua district has become the first woman passenger bus driver in Jammu and Kashmir. Mother of three children, Pooja Devi transported passengers on the Jammu-Kathua route for the foremost time on Thursday. As the news circulated like wildfire, pictures, and videos of her driving the bus created waves on social media.
“I always desired to become a bus or truck driver. I used to see myself driving heavy vehicles in my dreams. I belong to a very poor family. My father was a farmer. My family wasn’t able to educate me but I decided to take up driving as a career,” said Pooja Devi while speaking to the media. While describing her toil, she stated that it was not an effortless task to become a bus driver. She had to meet many hurdles including resistance from her family and husband.” My husband was initially against my determination to become a driver. He told me that driving is not a good career for women. But I told him that I want to chase my dreams,” she said.
Pooja Devi learned truck driving from her uncle Rajinder Singh and later applied for a license for driving heavy vehicles.”Initially, I used to drive cars, then I became a driving instructor at a driving school. I also used to drive taxis. Then I decided to drive heavy vehicles. Rajinder Singh Ji taught me truck driving. I’m very grateful to him. There was a time when I felt that no one would give me a bus to drive. But Jammu-Kathua Bus Union reposed faith in me,” she said.
While driving the passenger bus on the Jammu-Kathua route, her 7-year-old son escorts her on the trip. Pooja Devi stated that her son can’t remain at home without her, so she has no choice but to bring him along.”I have three children. My daughter studies in Class 10, my son in Class 7, and the youngest son in Class 2. My youngest son can’t stay at home without me. My husband is a laborer. I want to plead to the government to help us financially,” Pooja Devi added.
The young woman driver has evolved as a star on social media with many politicians and bureaucrats complimenting her. Union Minister Jitendra Singh shared her picture on Twitter and wrote, “Proud to have from district Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, the first woman bus driver Pooja Devi”.
Pooja also has the backing of male bus drivers as well as the people who have admired her determination to take up driving as a career.”It is a subject of great dignity for all of us. She has shown enormous bravery. Other women should draw inspiration from her. Women are doing very well in every field. They are even flying fighter planes. I hope more women in J&K will start driving passenger buses,” said Kuldeep Singh, a bus driver.
“When I saw a woman driving the bus, I was very surprised. We feel proud of her. It is a historic moment for J&K. It is great to see women coming forward and breaking taboos. Pooja Devi has made history. We are very proud of her, “It is a historic day for district Kathua, Basohli Tehsil, and the entire J&K. She comes from a very poor family. I feel so proud of her. I would request Prime Minister Modi to provide her a government job,” said a passenger.