Traffic held up for nearly two hours as police tried to clear protestors

An angry mob set fire to a private mofussil bus near Karamadai on the Mettupalayam Road here on Monday morning after a 20-year-old woman passenger fell from the bus and was run over by it. The bus was heading for Pollachi from Mettupalayam via Coimbatore.

According to police officials, the bus left Mettupalayam at 7.23 a.m. and after crossing Karamadai, the driver attempted a sharp cut to overtake a motorcycle. As the vehicle swerved, N. Hemalatha, (20), who was standing near the front entrance, fell out of the bus and was run over by the back wheel at around 7.30 a.m.

While the bus driver and conductor fled the spot, the passengers, who were joined by some locals and college students immediately, began to agitate at the spot.

According to some witnesses, the mob had initially tried to overturn the bus. Unsuccessful in this effort, they then set fire to the seats. Around 60 passengers were in the bus at the time of the incident.

Two fire engines from Kavundampalayam and Mettupalayam reached the spot by 8.10 a.m., but, by then the bus was almost fully gutted. Traffic on the road was held up for nearly two hours as the police personnel tried to clear the protestors. Traffic was restored by around 9.30 a.m. A crane removed the gutted bus at around 11.30 am.

A resident of Karamadai who frequently took this route said that private buses drove at high speeds on the Mettupalayam Road. Even though Government buses plied with a good frequency, many preferred the private buses in order to reach their destinations fast and with extra comfort such as music and better seats.

Hemalatha, according to her friends, who was residing with her parents and an elder brother at Kaikattipudur had completed Plus Two last year and was since working at a diamond cutting and polishing company at Narasimhanaickenpalayam.

Meanwhile, police have registered a case of causing death by negligence under Section 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against driver D. Santhosh of Periyanaickenpalayam. Similarly, investigations are also on to ascertain the identity of those who had set fire to the bus.

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