Bus services to many towns in southern districts come to a grinding halt; may resume today based on situation

As a sequel to the murder of Dalit outfit leader C. Pasupathi Pandian in Dindigul on Tuesday night, bus services in many parts of southern districts came to a grinding halt for the second day on Wednesday.

The TNSTC (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) operated buses on a majority of the stretches in the southern districts covering Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari respectively. Private buses were also operated on select mofussil routes like Karaikudi, Dindigul, Theni, Paramakudi and among other destinations.

With Pongal festival around, many public from far and near used the TNSTC buses to a great extent and the collection would touch its peak during this season, a senior official said.

However, as the news of the murder of Pasupathi Pandian spread since Tuesday night, many of his supporters resorted to agitations. To show their protest, they pelted stones at buses. According to police, 16 buses were damaged in the stone-throwing incidents reported at many locations in the city and suburban pockets of Madurai. The body of Pandian was taken from Dindigul to Tuticorin, his home town, amidst tight security.

As a precaution, the TNSTC authorities withdrew their services from 6 p.m. and operations within the city and peripheries were suspended, officials said and added that probably from Thursday morning, normal services may begin depending on the situation.

When the drivers stopped the buses at Maatuthavani integrated bus stand on Wednesday morning, passengers travelling from Chennai to Tuticorin and other southern districts were shocked. While many preferred to take trains to reach homes, other passengers were seen helpless at the bus stand. A woman, carrying her little daughter, almost wept uncontrollably as she had no extra money to feed her child. Some drivers and local police came to her rescue. For many others, they could not communicate as the batteries in their mobile phones were down. It was a heyday for private cab operators, share autorickshaw and autorickshaw drivers. Buses bound for Coimbatore, Salem and Erode remained off the road till 2 p.m. in Madurai, while buses to Tuticorin, Shencottah, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Mudukalathur, Bodi, Thevaram, Theni remained suspended throughout the day.

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