There were two drivers and a cleaner in the vehicle registered with the Thodupuzha RTO (KL-38-D-709). It was carrying migrant workers from West Bengal, Assam and Nagpur. The luggage and other belongings of the passengers were there on the bus when it left them in the midway. Narketpally police registered a case for cheating the passengers under section 420 of IPC.
Mathrubhumi.com during its investigation found that the bus is owned by one Anand Sankaranarayanan of Puthenveettil House at Edathiruthy in Thrissur. He bought the bus from its first owner, a Thodupuzha resident, on September 15, 2018. It was also discovered that the vehicle has been sold four times and is in possession of one Vimal from Valappad, Thrissur, at present. Anand sold the vehicle in 2019 to one Shaji from Thrissur and Shaji sold the vehicle to Jishil in Malappuram. Last week, Jishil sold the vehicle to Vimal and his friends Sanath, Prasanth and Manikantan. The ownership of the vehicle has not been changed so far despite selling it many times.
Ironically, the incident happened on the first trip after Vimal bought the vehicle.
When contacted the present owner of the vehicle, Vimal, he said, “The trip was arranged by an agent, named Abi Abhinand from Kollam, for Rs 1,20,000. He paid Rs 1,00,000 in advance and assured the payment of the rest during the trip. However, even after reaching Hyderabad, the amount was not credited to my account. Rs 70,000 was needed for fuel expenses. Another Rs 12,000 was needed for meeting the expenses of the three staff during the 12-day journey covering 6,000 kilometres. Nearly Rs 20,000 was needed for meeting other expenses, such as paying the toll and other maintenance, including changing the tire.”
He also claimed that when the bus reached Hyderabad, the operators conveyed the matter to the passengers and urged them to talk to the agent to pay the rest of the amount to continue the journey. “When they called the agent, he was reluctant to pay the amount and switched his mobile off. We were unable to continue the journey. Irked passengers started attacking the drivers and cleaner and damaged their mobile phones. Continuing the journey was a risk for them. They escaped from the spot due to fear. They have filed a complaint against the agent with Valappad police station,” he added.
He said that the luggage and other belongings of the passengers are safe and they are ready to hand it over.
When contacted the agent Abi Abhinand, he said: “There were only 58 passengers in the vehicle as per the deal. The bus operators allowed extra passengers during the trip and it irked the others. The bus operators and passengers fought each other over an argument on it. I paid Rs 1,00,000 to them. The bus operators were supposed to collect the remaining Rs 20,000 from the passengers. However, when they allowed extra people, the passengers got annoyed.”
Narketpally police to reach Kerala
When contacted the SHO of Narketpally police station, he said: “All the passengers have been lodged safely and will do the needful for continuing their journey.”
He also said that a team of police has left for Kerala to arrest the accused in the case and seize the vehicle.
Agent collected huge amount from passengers
The passengers have reportedly paid Rs 4,000 to 4,500 to the agent for the journey, In total, the agent must have collected nearly Rs 2.5 lakhs from them. “He just arranged passengers for the journey and we have to struggle on road. He did not even pay the promised amount for the journey. After working hard for 12 days, we are penniless and the agent got a huge amount without even doing anything," said Sanath, the driver of the bus.