Premanan was cruelly beaten up in front of his daughter by a group of public transport employees at a bus depot, prompting the government to suspend four Kerala SRTC staffers.

Collage of two shots where a man and his daughter are being manhandled by Kerala SRTC staffScreengrab/AsianetNews
news Controversy Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 15:44

A 55-year-old man and his daughter were manhandled and assaulted by the staffers of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (Kerala SRTC), in the state capital’s Kattakada bus station, on Tuesday, September 20. The attack took place after a dispute over students’ concession for the girl. Premanan and his daughter later sought treatment at a taluk hospital.

Premanan was cruelly beaten up in front of his daughter by a group of public transport employees at a bus depot, prompting the government to suspend four Kerala SRTC staffers and the High Court to register a case on its own on the shocking incident. Not just Premanan, but his college-going daughter was also pushed and assaulted by the staffers of the public transport carrier after a brief war of words erupted between them at the bus depot in the morning.

The assault incident caught wide public and media attention after a visual captured in a mobile phone went viral and the local television channels aired it. In the video, the employees could be seen pushing the man into a room and assaulting him and beating the girl who tried to stop them. The daughter could also be seen questioning the assault by the employees and another man could be heard telling the staffers to not beat them up.

A native of Amachal near Thiruvananthapuram, Premanan said that a minor argument with the KSRTC employees at the depot resulted in the assault. "I went to the depot with my daughter to renew her students' concession. The staff at the counter asked us to bring the course certificate. I told them that it was already submitted during the renewal of the bus-pass last month," he said. But, the employees were not ready to renew the concession and the argument resulted in the assault.

As the issue triggered a controversy, Transport Minister Antony Raju intervened and sought an urgent report from the chairman and the managing director of the KSRTC into the incident. “Though it is an isolated incident, the manhandling of a person who arrived at the office, which brought disgrace to the Kerala SRTC, could not be accepted at any cost,” the Minister said.

Later in the evening, an order was issued suspending four employees pending inquiry based on the preliminary enquiry report. "Directions have been given to the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) to complete the probe within 45 days and to take stringent action against the accused," the minister's office said.

Kerala SRTC Managing Director Biju Prabhakar issued an apology, however instead of looking at systemic violence, the MD decided to stigmatise mental health issues in his response. “A few staff members who have mental health problems are the fundamental issue of Kerala SRTC. That will not be tolerated,” he said.

Meanwhile, advocate Deepu Thankan, who represents Kerala SRTC in the Kerala High Court, said Justice Devan Ramachandran called for a report on the incident. He also said the high court has registered a case on its own into the incident based on media reports.

Kattakkada police said five Kerala SRTC employees have been booked in connection with the incident and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 143 (Punishment), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt)  and so on have been slapped against them.

(With PTI inputs)

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