An horrendous travel experience
At the time, the grand thespian from Kannada film industry Rajkumar was kidnapped by dreaded dacoit Veerappan and we feared if this gang belonged to him and were hijacking us to his hideout. The hijackers, all 5 in numbers, occupying the last row in the Bus were well complemented by 4 or 5 others, who had followed the Bus from Bangalore on a Van and a motorbike.
At gunpoint, the passengers were asked to hand over whatever valuables they had on them viz. cash, jewellery, credit cards, wristwatches, etc. Before this, the gang ensured that all mobile phones and pagers were handed over to them. Later each bag was checked with more precision than the security staff at Airport, for more cash and goodies. Resistance from any passenger, was met with rude language and threat to take the passenger out and shoot him. The ruthless gang ensured that all the passengers were left penniless.
There was no doubt, that the gang hailed from the northern part of India, who spoke chaste Hindi. None of them wore masks or gloves, which showed how gutsy they were. One among them was kind hearted, who ensured that peace prevailed and also requested his accomplices to behave well with the ladies and kids. Surprisingly the 3 ladies and 2 kids in the bus did not panic at all. Fortunately nobody was harmed physically except for a few blows rendered to those passengers who tried to conceal some cash.
The entire ordeal lasted for about 50 minutes. The Driver of the bus was asked to hand over the bus keys and then the hosepipe connecting the Fuel Tank was cut off. The gang decamped from the site of the crime after ensuring that the luggage in the undercarriage of the bus, too, was not spared. Fortunately it was a full moon night and the visibility was good.
All praise for the Driver, who repaired the Bus in about 40 minutes time and drove the bus alongwith passengers to the nearest Petrol pump, some 7 kms from the crime site. The passengers then approached the police wirless van parked nearby. Message was flashed on the wireless immediately. The police party arrived within 30 minutes of reporting the incident, including the Superintendent of Police. Special mention to be made of the STD booth owner, near the Petrol pump, whose shop was opened at the request of passengers at about 3:00 am. Considering the state of the passengers, he accepted whatever money was given to him. I called up home to inform my family about the incident and heaved a sigh of relief.
The buses along with passengers were taken to Kolar Rural Police station at about 4:00 am. The crime details were recorded and the entire process was completed by 6:00 am. By then the Udaya TV crew members had arrived. The owner of Sharma Transport also arrived at the Police Station and ensured that the passengers reached Bangalore safely. He also ensured that passengers called up their home to inform about their safety and Tea/coffee with refreshments was arranged on the way back.
I could save my gold chain due to some quick thinking, while the dacoits were busy looting other passengers. My new watch was taken alongwith whatever money was available in the wallet save the Credit cards. I was penniless all the way home. My folks at home were already tuned into the latest Morning news, which flashed our Story. I could see myself on the small screen giving an interview. For a moment nobody realized the agonizing time I had to undergo the whole night until I narrated the complete story. You got a second life, they all echoed.