Mobile phone in bus driver’s pocket sparks protest

Passengers exchange heated words with vigilance squad members at Nittur bus stand in Gubbi taluk on Saturday. DH Photo

A mobile phone in a KSRTC bus driver’s pocket triggered a flash protest here on Saturday.

Due to the flash protest staged by passengers, the bus was halted for over one hour.

The incident occurred when the bus (KA 06 F 1152) was heading from Tiptur to Bengaluru. A two-member vigilance squad stopped the bus at Nittur bus stand and started checking tickets of passengers.

After checking the tickets, the squad staff noticed a mobile phone with the driver Muralidhar.

Assistant traffic inspector Pradeep and Sangappa Ingalgi, attached to Tumakuru depot-01 decided to levy fine on him and register a case for possessing the mobile phone while driving.

Muralidhar folded his hands and pleaded that he should not be fined. He claimed that he was carrying the mobile phone as his wife pregnant.

A few passengers blasted the duo for ignoring the driver’s pleas. They even asked them why they were not in uniform while on duty.

They said that they would not let the bus move until senior officers reached the spot and withdrew the case against him.

As the situation seemed go out of control, the two officers decided to destroy the original copy of the case.

However, the passengers did not calm down. They charged that the two officers might once again register the case as they had a duplicate (carbon) copy. They wanted the officers to destroy the duplicate copy. They even dared them to approach the police and register cases against passengers.

They charged that KSRTC senior officers lacked humanity. Recently, a driver’s daughter died in Gangavathi in Koppal district, but the top brass directed him to be on duty. They didn’t even inform him about the death.

A few local leaders intervened and attempted to calm down the passengers, but efforts were in vain.

Minutes later, a group of leaders and media persons intervened. They got a letter from the two officers that they would not trouble the driver in future. They made them destroy the duplicate copy.

After the duplicate copy was destroyed, the passengers withdrew the protest facilitating movement of the bus.

According to Pradeep, the department introduced a rule from September 1 that barred drivers possessing and using mobile phones while on duty.

“We’ve used the norm and register a case only for possessing the mobile phone We’ve just warned the driver,” he told DH.

However, Muralidhar charged that the case was registered deliberately.

“I had brought the mobile phone as my wife is pregnant. I had switched it off. However, the officers charged that the mobile was switched on and deliberately registered a case,” he claimed.