Agra/Lucknow, Aug 19 (PTI) A private bus with 34 passengers on board was allegedly hijacked by some people from a finance company in Uttar Pradesh's Agra, officials said on Wednesday.
The bus was recovered from a dhaba in Etawah district on Wednesday afternoon, more than 12 hours after it was hijacked, they said, adding that all passengers were safe and en route to their destinations in other vehicles.
The incident took place in the Malpura police station area on Tuesday night when the bus was en route to Panna in Madhya Pradesh from Haryana's Gurgaon, according to police.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi in the morning said the bus driver, staff and passengers are safe.
A total of 34 passengers were on board the bus, according to police.
Earlier in the day, Agra Senior Superintendent of Police Babloo Kumar said three people who got off the bus informed police that representatives of a finance company had boarded it.
Later in the evening, he said the finance company people had taken over the bus not over the financing of the bus but due to a money-related trouble between one of the suspects and the bus owner.
He said the action of the men was 'audacious'.
The sleeper bus had the registration number of UP’s Etawah but it is owned by a private operator of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.
SSP Kumar said the episode started unfolding from around 10.30 pm on Tuesday when the bus was near the Raibha toll plaza at the Dakshin bypass.
Eight to nine young men in two SUVs intercepted it.
'These men claimed they were from a finance company and asked the bus driver to get down but he ignored them and continued the ride,” he said.
'The men in the SUVs then chased the bus and overtook it in the Malpura area. They got into the bus and forcibly brought down the driver and the conductor. They also told the passengers to not scream and assured them that no harm will be done to them,' he added.
Later, four of these men boarded the bus and sped away on the Delhi-Kanpur highway, Kumar said.
He said the driver and the conductor of the bus were taken in one of the SUVs and dropped in the Kuberpur area on the highway around 4 am on Wednesday after which they approached the local police for help.
Police personnel, including the district police chief, reached the spot and a search operation was launched to track the bus, he said.
SSP Kumar said the bus was found at a dhaba in Etawah in the afternoon.
The people who forcibly controlled the vehicle had asked passengers to alight in Agra itself and got them on different vehicles so that they could go further to their destinations in Madhya Pradesh.
“Nobody was harmed in the process. Police from Madhya Pradesh's Chhatarpur were in touch with the passengers after the incident. The passengers were on their way to their destinations,” he said.
He said six to seven people were apparently involved in the case and one of them has been identified.
“The incident took place due to some personal money-related rivalry between one of the suspects and the bus owner. Investigation is on and the accused will be nabbed soon,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties targeted the state government over the law and order situation.
'The so-called finance company hijacking the bus in a filmy manner suggests lawlessness in UP. The incident has laid bare the hollow claims of law and order in the state. Dear government, is this the 'Yogi model' of law and order,' Congress state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said in a tweet.
The Samajwadi Party too asked the government to ensure the safe return of all passengers.
'The hijacking of a bus with 34 passengers in Agra is a very sad and frightening incident. The law and order situation in UP is so severe that even the biggest of crimes are being carried out anywhere. Prayers for the safety of all travellers,' it said in a tweet. PTI CORR KIS NAV DIV RDK RDK