Crew beat up B'luru-bound passengers as bus breaks down

Crew beat up B'luru-bound passengers as bus breaks down

At least two students travelling from Kochi to Bengaluru were "brutally beaten up" by the staff of Suresh Kallada Tours and Travels for complaining about a broken bus and demanding alternative travel arrangements. 

Shortly after a video of the beatings went viral on social media on Sunday, travellers from Bengaluru and Kerala demanded the suspension of the private bus operator's licence. Some narrated having faced a similar ordeal with the transporter's staff in the past. 

Jacob Philip, an entrepreneur, was one of the passengers on the Kochi-Bengaluru bus. Midway through the journey, he narrated what happened in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. 

Jacob said he boarded the bus at midnight at Haripad, Alappuzha district, and it broke down soon after. The Haripad police came to the spot after some time and found that the bus crew were being "indifferent" to the passengers and failed to promise them alternative travel arrangements. 

The driver and the attendant then fled the scene. Police, too, expressed helplessness and left after 30 minutes. But the attendant was traced later and though his phone, Kallada was contacted. Passengers worried about their safety argued with the Kallada management. In the meantime, Kerala police officers reached the spot and convinced Kallada to arrange another bus by 3 am. The driver was brought to the spot and asked to proceed. 

After an hour and a half of the journey, however, Kallada staffers waylaid the bus and started thrashing two young passengers who were vocal in their protest against the mismanagement. The situation turned ugly when the bus reached Vytala, Kochi, at 4.30 am. Over 10 goons dragged the two passengers out and beat them up. They did not allow other passengers to get off the bus. They let off the two youths after a lot of pleading. The bus finally reached Bengaluru at 4.30 pm instead of its scheduled arrival at noon. 

Speaking to DH, Jacob said he was being threatened. "I have been getting threats to delete the post. While I am going to Mumbai, 20 others were coming to Bengaluru," he added. 

FIR registered

Following the incident, the Maradu police in the Kochi city registered a case of assault against three Kallada staffers.  

According to the Maradu police, they had received information about the incident around 5.30 am and soon went to Vytilla, where they found the three youths who were assaulted. The youths said they were studying in Erode, Tamil Nadu. 

No response from operator

Two of them were identified as Ajayagosh, from Thiruvananthapuram, and Mohammed, from Palakkad. Police asked them to go to a nearby hospital. But when the police reached the hospital later, they found the youths hadn't gone there. But since the footage of the incident had surfaced, police registered a case against three Kallada staffers. Further action would be taken soon, the station house officer of the Maradu police station said. 

Police further said they tried contacting the tour operator's office in Kochi but there was no response. They later got in touch with Kallada through a travel operator at Haripad.