When Sachin and Ashkar, two B Tech students from Kerala, boarded the Suresh Kallada bus from Haripad on Saturday, little did they know that the journey would turn out to be their worst nightmare. In a viral video posted by their co-passenger on Facebook, the duo were seen being beaten up by three men and being forcefully ousted from the bus.
In a shocking revelation, the two passengers now say that the video was just the beginning of what was to come. The duo, and another passenger who had questioned the travel company, were chased for close to three hours and attacked by 12 goons from Kallada Travels, until they managed to escape to Coimbatore.
“We were surrounded by the staff when we got down from the bus. They had beer bottles with them. We made a run for our lives. But they chased us on bikes and attacked us until we collapsed,” Sachin says.
Bus breaks down at Haripad
According to the passengers, a minor scuffle took place after the bus, which was plying from Haripad (Alappuzha) to Bengaluru, broke down almost immediately after the journey began.
“We were in a deserted place a few kilometres away from Haripad. The bus had broken down and the staff were unresponsive. They did not even have basic necessities like water. When we questioned them, they began abusing us,” Sachin says.
After three hours of waiting and two absent staff members, the stranded passengers called up the police who came and fixed the problem. Within 30 minutes, another bus, which had already been despatched from Ernakulam, arrived, and the passengers boarded the vehicle.
“We had a rough altercation with the staff as they were rude and unresponsive. But nobody was hurt or hospitalised, unlike what the Kallada manager claims,” Sachin says, referring to Kallada Travels’ allegations that the passengers had attacked their staff first.
Ousted from bus at Vytilla, chased for hours
Just when everybody thought that the situation had normalised, a bunch of three goons entered the bus at the Vytilla stop. The office of Kallada Travels is located in Vytilla, Ernakulam.
The video on Facebook shows the goons abusing and ousting these two and another passenger from the bus. What was not captured were the events which unfolded after this.
“The three of us were surrounded by these goons and they started beating us up. We knew we did not stand a chance and hence made a run for it. They got on their bikes and chased us. Four of them were behind me, and the others behind my friend. We were chased for hours together until the police turned up,” Sachin says.
‘Threatened to run me over with the bus’
According to the men’s statements, the people who attacked them had beer bottles in their hands. They chased them around in Rx 100 bikes.
Both Sachin and Ashkar kept sending their live location over WhatsApp to friends, and kept trying to call the police. At one point Ashkar was caught by the goons, “They took me to a dingy godown near their office, threatened to run me over with a bus and kill me,” Ashkar tells TNM, “They then called up Sachin from my phone, and told him that I was dead and he would be next.”
Meanwhile, Sachin had collapsed on the main road. “I had no wallet, no bag, my phone was dying and I could not walk. I thought that was the end of me,” he recounts.
The Maradu police came where Sachin was around 6.45 am, and managed to bring Ashkar and the third passenger to the spot. However, the passengers allege the police were absolutely unhelpful, and even aided the goons to catch hold of them again. The police had reached the godown where Ashkar was held, made him get Sachin there, and sent them away without any help or action against the goons.
“They (the police) did not offer us water. They put us in an auto and asked us to find our way to a hospital. While in the auto, we were being chased by goons again. We took a detour, got into a cab that a friend managed to book for us, and escaped to Aluva, and then took a bus to Thrissur and then a train to Coimbatore. We were really scared and were receiving death threats on our phone,” the duo tells TNM.
Kallada’s counter allegation
Kallada Tours told TNM and also issued a statement on Facebook alleging that Sachin and Ashkar had assaulted their staff twice- once in Haripad, then later at the Vytilla office. Kallada has also said that one of their employees suffered an injury on the nose and employees who were agitated at the conduct of the passengers, assaulted them in retaliation. Sachin, however, has denied this and said that they never got down at Vytilla office. “At Haripad, they were very abusive and things did get heated up, but we did not hit them,” he said.
Kallada travels staff arrested
The Maradu police have now arrested three of the staff – Jayesh, Girilal, and Jithin – for assaulting the passengers. A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 294(b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
The two victims are now receiving treatment at a private hospital in Coimbatore. Both of them have sustained injuries in their arms, legs, and head.