Truck cleaner’s death leads to protest; traffic hit

DCP Uma Prashanth visited the spot where lorry overturned at Thokkottu Junction.

The death of a truck cleaner sparked off a massive protest and vehicular traffic came to a grinding halt on National Highway 66 for more than an hour at Thokkottu Junction on the outskirts of the city on Tuesday.

The deceased was identified as Vasanth Kumar (25), a resident of Shikaripura in Shivamogga. According to a source, the traffic police had signalled the truck driver to stop the vehicle for a routine inspection at Thokkattu junction. Heeding to the instructions of traffic cop, the truck driver had pulled the vehicle aside.

In a tragic turn of events, the concrete slab covering the drain caved in and the truck overturned. The cleaner, Vasanth Kumar, in an attempt to save his life jumped from the truck but in the process got crushed under the truck.  The cleaner Kumar was trapped under the truck for nearly 10 minutes.

Later, an earth mover from a nearby construction site was pressed into service and a profusely bleeding Kumar was extricated from under the truck and shifted to a private hospital in Deralakatte. Kumar, however, succumbed in the hospital, the source added. The accident sparked off protests.

Condemning the incident, over 500 residents and vehicle owners staged a protest by blocking the vehicles on the highway. The protesters blamed the accident on the irresponsible act of traffic police and demanded compensation for the family of the
deceased.

The protesters also demanded an immediate stop on toll being collected on NH 66 until the work on four-laning and service roads were completed.

They also urged the police commissioner and deputy commissioner to visit the spot and listen to their grievances. Following the traffic blockade, the vehicles were seen lined up on the highway for many kilometres. They alleged that the truck was stopped on the orders of traffic cops present at the spot.

The police had been stopping vehicles at Thokkottu Junction for booking cases and causing inconvenience to the movement of vehicles. The delay in the completion of the flyover at Thokkottu had resulted in congestion at Thokkottu and the traffic police’s decision to book cases had further aggravated the situation, they claimed.

DCP (Crime and Traffic) Uma Prashanth visited the spot. Following her assurance, the protest was withdrawn to facilitate the movement of vehicles on the highway. As tension prevailed at the site, police immediately deployed KSRP personnel to maintain law and order. The truck was transporting firewood from Karkala to a fishmeal factory in Ullal.

Case against NHAI

The DCP said a case has been registered against lorry driver Jaya Poojary for negligent driving, NHAI officials and contractor for the poor quality of roadworks that led to the collapse of slabs covering the drainage.

A case was registered under IPC Section 279, 304 (A), a source added.

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