On Sunday, a 23-year-old woman was made to run for more than five minutes after the bus she was traveling in abandoned her on a highway after they had stopped for a dinner break. And the bus company is the same one that was in a massive controversy in April – Kallada Travels – after they had brutally attacked two men travelling from Kochi to Bengaluru, for asking about a delay in their journey.
Stella*, a Bengaluru-based HR professional was travelling from Thiruvananthapuram to Bengaluru on Sunday night. “I had boarded the bus at 6.45 pm from Kazhakootam, Thiruvananthapuram, and the bus stopped for dinner around 10:30 pm, I think at Tirunelveli. I was actually having dinner and within 10-15 minutes, the bus started moving without any warning,” Stella said.
“When I saw the bus moving, I literally ran towards the bus. People who were around understood and they started shouting and even cars were honking. But the bus just left and I started running behind like a mad person. Seeing me running, some people offered me a lift. But at that time I was traumatised and did not know whether to trust them. And then, literally, a car chased the bus and stopped it. Even then, the bus did not come back and I had to run myself on the highway all the way,” she said.
When she got in finally, rather than apologising for leaving her behind, the bus driver behaved rudely with her, she said. “I did not understand fully what he said. I was not in the frame of mind to carry on that conversation. I just got back to my seat,” Stella said.
“I had thought just like in any other bus, they would have checked that everybody was in their seats before leaving,” she said.
After some time, Stella called up her friend and narrated the incident. When her friend, C Sahaya called the driver seeking an explanation, he was threatened.
“I asked him why they left a woman behind. I asked this in Tamil. Then he (the driver) said that he doesn’t know Tamil and asked me to speak in Malayalam. I asked the same thing in Malayalam again. Then he said that it’s not his duty to see if the passengers come inside the bus or not. I said ‘don’t you have any sense? You leave a girl and make her run and then say it’s not your duty?’ He then said ‘do you know to which travels you’re talking to? This is Kallada travels. Do you know who is Kallada’?” Sahaya told TNM.
TNM could not reach the driver, Thirupathy for a reaction. When asked for a comment, an official at the Kallada head office, said, “We are unaware of this incident. No such complaint has reached us."
In April, seven Kallada Travels staff were arrested by police in Kerala for brutally assaulting two young men for questioning a delay in the journey. They were chased and beaten up by several thugs. The Travels company owner, Suresh Kallada was summoned by the Kerala State Human Rights Commission over the issue.
(Additional inputs by Korah Abraham)
*Name changed on request