Last year, Pratiksha Das made news when she became the first and only woman driver in Mumbai’s BEST bus service. Now, Pooja Devi has become the first female bus driver in Jammu and Kashmir. The mother of three took control of the steering wheel of a passenger bus on Thursday, a new history was made.
Hailing from Sandhar-Basohli village in Kathua district, Devi drove the bus from her hometown to Jammu on her maiden route to inspire many women into the profession.
According to an India Today report, Pooja Devi, a mother of three, ferried passengers on the Jammu-Kathua route with her son accompanying her as she drove the passenger bus to its destination. Her maiden journey as a driver, spread like wildfire, pictures and videos of her driving the bus went viral on social media circuits.
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh took to Twitter and wrote, ‘Proud to have from district Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, the first woman bus driver Pooja Devi.’
Speaking to channel, Pooja said, she always wanted to become a truck driver, while also regretting that she could not receive a proper education. ‘My family wasn't able to educate me but I decided to take up driving as a career,’ she added.
She also narrated her struggle to become a bus driver and hardships she had to face from her own family and society in realising her dream. Devi, in her 30’s said that she learnt truck driving from her maternal uncle Rajinder Singh and later applied for a license for driving heavy vehicles.
She initially used to drive cars and then became a driving instructor and also used to drive taxis for a living. But then decided to drive heavy vehicles and at times she would feel that no one would give her a bus to drive. ‘But Jammu-Kathua Bus Union reposed faith in me,’ she said.
‘Women are flying fighter jets now. I wanted to break the taboo that only men can drive passenger buses,’ The Times of India quoted her saying. She also added that she wanted to send out a message to all women who want to apply at ‘challenging jobs’ and also to those families who do not let women follow their dreams.
Pooja Devi also said that she has the support of male bus drivers as well as the public who have appreciated her decision to take up driving as a profession.