K. Shruthi (27), a systems analyst at an IT major on Old Mahabalipuram Road, had the shock of her life on Friday when two unidentified men on a bike threw stones at the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus she was travelling in, at Thandalam.
The incident led to the windshield of the Volvo air-conditioned bus getting damaged; the driver S. Prabhakaran (42) sustained injuries. While none of the passengers were injured and were shifted to another bus, many were quite shaken.
“The stone throwing happened without any warning. I was sitting in the front portion of the bus. The safety of commuters is at risk now,” said Shruthi.
This was only the latest in a series of attacks on MTC buses that began after the arrest of PMK founder S. Ramadoss, on Tuesday for staging a demonstration in defiance of police orders in Villupuram.
Around the same time as the Thandalam incident, another bus was attacked, this time on Vandalur – Kelambakkam Main Road. A group of miscreants, who had come in an SUV, attacked the bus at Poongori and fled. The driver of this bus, K. Ponnrangam, too was injured. The bus was on the route 555D from Tiruporur to Tambaram.
The Tiruporur police filed cases under Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992 after the incidents.
On Thursday, 50 commuters were perhaps a bit more ‘fortunate’ as the persons who attacked two buses at the LIC Colony junction on the Velachery Main Road asked them to get down before they damaged the vehicles. The buses were coming from Vijayanagar bus terminus near Velachery. Five persons were arrested by the Velachery police in the aftermath of the incident.
Commuters pointed out that in addition to the fear such events generated, finding another bus was also quite a task. A senior police official felt that drivers were specifically at risk since stones were often thrown at the glass panels at the front.
“A public outcry against such acts will help curb the menace apart from stringent punishments,” he added.
For MTC, repairs are proving quite a headache. While the total cost is likely to be nearly Rs. 12 lakh, an amount that will be reimbursed by the government once the MTC gives a report, a more pressing concern is the lack of spare glass panels. In fact, many of the damaged buses have been left at the depots pending repair.
“We have asked bus drivers and conductors to be vigilant and ensure automatic doors remain closed. We are also planning to install CCTVs in the buses with a central control room to help us curb such violence and other offences,” said a senior MTC official.