Kochi/Bengaluru: Passengers of a private bus heading from Thiruvananthapuram to Bengaluru were beaten up by its employees who protested as the crew didn't make alternative arrangements after their vehicle broke down. Employees of the bus named ‘Suresh Kallada’ thrashed three youth heading for their workplace in Bengaluru.
Following the incident, the police has arrested two employees-Jayesh and Jitin. Two other employees, including the manager of Suresh Kallada, an inter-state private bus chain have been taken into custody. The manager of the Thiruvananthapuram branch has been summoned to the police headquarters for questioning. The bus has been confiscated by the police and brought to Maradu police station.
The DGP has instructed the Kochi City Police Commisioner to file a charge sheet against the employees after questioning the victims.Taking note of the issue, A K Saseendran, the Kerala Transport Minister, has asked the Transport Commissioner for a report regarding the incident. The latter has promised to undertake strict action against the culprits. Meantime, the permit of the bus has been confiscated by the authorities.
It is said the employees who barged into the bus dragged the passengers out and beat them up. The incident came to light after a co-passenger shot the incident on phone and shared it on social media.
The multi-axle AC bus that started at 10 pm on Saturday from Thiruvananthapuram broke down near Karuvatta, Haripad. The driver and cleaner left the scene, leaving passengers in pitch dark. A war of words ensued between them and Haripad police intervened to arrange a different vehicle.
The scuffle started as the bus reached Vyttila around 4 am on Sunday. Some bus employees from Ernakulam barged in and started thrashing the passengers who raised their voices in Haripad. The youth were dragged out of the bus as they tried to retaliate. The bus continued on its Bangalore trip without them. Though other passengers, including women and children, were woken by the hustle, no one defended the youth.
Jacob Philip, a co-passenger, shot the incident on his phone and posted it online from the bus itself. The youth were also thrashed by a 15-member group outside the bus, he said. Jacob started receiving threats over phone from Suresh Kallada after the post. The bus that was to reach Madiwala in Bengaluru at 12 noon made it only by 4.20 pm.
A case has been registered after one of the victims, Ajayaghosh, contacted the police over phone, said Maradu SI Baiju P Babu. 'The Kallada employees are a bunch of goons. They pelted stones at our heads," said Ajayaghosh.
The employees allegedly took a phone, suitcase and Rs 1 lakh cash from him. The police reached the spot in Vytilla and found all three victims in an exhausted state. They were resting at a tea stall near Vytilla masjid at night Subsequently, they were sent to Thrippunithura Taluk Hospital for medical attention. But they did not turn up there or any other local hospitals, police said.
However, KR Suresh Kumar, the bus owner, said the youth attacked the cleaner first.
"He has five stitches on his head. The youth attacked his Vytilla employees too," Suresh alleged.
Later, a press release from the company said that the staff involved had been suspended. “Two youths in the bus attacked an employee inside the bus at Harippad. They later also made an attempt to assault another employee in the Kochi office of Kallada. The management learnt about the incident only after the visuals were circulated in the social media,” said the release.
The LDF activists have shut down the Vaikom office of Suresh Kallada following the incident.