Pooja Devi, a 30-something mother of two, has became Jammu and Kashmir’s first woman bus driver. She drives a private bus from Kathua to Jammu.
Pooja has spent her childhood in the remote Sandhar-Basohli village in Kathua district. Pooja was always passionate about driving and she drove cars since she was a teenager. In her teenage years, she would often dream of driving heavy vehicles. She says that her family did not support her in the starting. She is not educated enough to oursue other jobs, and she loves driving. She used to drive a taxi for learning driving of commercial vehicles. She has also drove a truck in Jammu. She says that finally, her dream has come true. Her toddler son often accompanys her in the bus drives. She also has a daughter who studies in Class 10.
She says that women are flying fighter jets now. Behind her decision of driving buses, she also wanted to break the taboo that only men can drive passenger buses. She wanted to send out a message to all women who dreams of doing challenging jobs and also to those whose families would not let them follow their dreams.
She says that her family was financially weak and it was one of the many reasons why had to choose a profession and come out to earn.
She was receiving Rs 10000 per month as a trainer from a reputed driving institution in Jammu. When she received a heavy driving license, then she approached the union and they trusted her and handed over a passenger bus to drive on Jammu-Kathua road.
Pooja says that she will be always thankful to the transporter who gave her the job of driving a passenger bus from Kathua to Jammu after seeing her driving skills. She said that the Jammu-Kathua-Pathankot highway often remains full of heavy traffic which makes it a difficult run for any driver. But, she has always dreamt of this. The first drive gave her a lot of confidence.
She says that she is also grateful to her male colleagues who have been welcoming and very helpful. Unfortunately, she also has to witness stares and comments which she ignores. Many passengers feel awkward when they see a woman driving a bus but she tries to remain focused on driving.