‘He punched me for asking questions’: Kovai woman allegedly assaulted by bus driver

The woman has alleged that the driver reeked of alcohol and hit her and her husband for asking why they were being asked to change buses in the middle of the journey.
‘He punched me for asking questions’: Kovai woman allegedly assaulted by bus driver
‘He punched me for asking questions’: Kovai woman allegedly assaulted by bus driver
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39-year-old Vaishnavi had hoped for a pleasant travel on Sunday night while returning home from Puducherry. But what awaited her was a traumatic experience at the hands of the bus driver who verbally and physically abused Vaishnavi and her husband for asking a few questions.

Vaishnavi and her husband, who live in Coimbatore, were visiting their relatives in Puducherry on Sunday. They had pre-booked tickets to return to Coimbatore by a sleeper bus operated by a private bus service, KPN Travels India Limited, at the cost of Rs 3,000.

When they reached their boarding point, a van was waiting for them to take all the passengers to the bus. A lot of omnibus operators usually arrange a private van pickup for the passengers to reach the boarding point and hence an unsuspecting Vaishnavi boarded the van with her husband at around 9 pm on Sunday night. The van took the passengers to Tindivanam, around 40 km from Puducherry to board their bus.

Finally, after a 30-minute wait at Tindivanam, their bus arrived at around 11 pm and she boarded the bus only to be woken up rudely at 2 am by an employee of the bus service.

"They woke us up and said that those who are going to Coimbatore must change buses. It was on Salem-Attur highway and literally in the middle of nowhere that they wanted to deboard and change your another bus," Vaishnavi tells TNM.

Vaishnavi then started raising questions as to why the passengers are being troubled constantly despite being charged a lot of money. Other passengers too joined her and started asking questions to the driver and the other employee present in the bus.

"It was at that time that the driver started addressing me with words like 'vaadi' and 'podi' (Tamil words used to address someone without respect). As I refused to stop until I got an answer, the driver came near me and started talking to me using filthy language and hit me. He reeked of alcohol and as I raised my hands to protect myself from his blows, he kicked me. My husband who tried to intervene was also met with a similar fate," Vaishnavi shares.

When the passengers tried calling the police from the spot and dialled 100, the calls could not be connected due to a poor network in the area. Since they had no other choice, the passengers then changed their buses and continued their journey to Coimbatore.

After reaching Coimbatore on Monday morning, Vaishnavi contacted the KPN's head office to complain.

"They told me that I had only raised voice while everybody else was quiet. They were blaming me basically. But why shouldn't I raise my voice for my right? I paid money for a comfortable, uninterrupted journey from Puducherry to Coimbatore and got nothing but discomfort," she says.

She then spoke to the Operations manager of KPN, who said that he would look into the matter and call her back by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Vaishnavi has filed a complaint against the driver for assaulting her and her husband and against KPN for allowing a drunk driver to operate the bus, putting passengers’ safety at risk. She also urged the District Collector to take action against KPN for cheating the customers by selling tickets for a point-to-point bus and making them change buses twice en route.

"We book such tickets by paying high rates only to have undisturbed sleep since all of us have our own work the next day. These people are cheating and abusing customers at their will and I am determined to reclaim my right," says a determined Vaishnavi. She also adds that she will file a police complaint on the matter on Tuesday.

This, however, is not the first instance of complaint of drunken driving against KPN. In 2015, a video of a drunk driver operating a KPN bus had gone viral on social media causing massive outrage against the operator.

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