Missing bus found by Salem police near Ulundurpet after a hot chase

Special Correspondent

SALEM: In a strange incident that has all the ingredients of a Bollywood thriller, a Government-owned bus, parked at the New Integrated Bus stand here, was found missing on Sunday night.

A team of highway patrol policemen, alerted by the Salem City Police, spotted the missing bus near Ulundurpet in Villupuram district with no passenger and seized it after a hot chase for a distance of nearly five kilometres on the Ulundurpet-Chennai National Highways in the early hours of Monday. They detained the man who was behind the wheel. The strange episode unfolded on Sunday evening when the bus from Madurai belonging to the Madurai Division of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, arrived at about 5 p.m. and was parked at the designated bay in the New Integrated Bus Stand. Its return journey was scheduled at 9.40 p.m. on the same day. At about 8.30 p.m., driver Perumal and conductor Rajendran, went for dinner at a near-by hotel leaving the bus in the bay.

When they returned, they found the bus missing. They immediately preferred a complaint with the police who alerted all police stations and highway patrols along the Salem-Chennai, Salem-Coimbatore and Salem-Madurai National Highways. The bus cruising at a speed of 60 kilometres was spotted near Ulundurpet, some 140 kilometres away from Salem in the early hours of Monday. After a hot chase, they stopped it and found a 37-year old man driving it. No passenger was found inside. The bus and the man were brought to Salem for further enquiry. Police told The Hindu that the arrested man was identified as one S. Thangamani of Kammalapati near here. He was a casual labourer in the Salem Division during 1998-99. At present, he was unemployed and used to remain in the bus stand doing sundry works such as cleaning the buses.

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