Johnson Durai Manikum, afflicted with polio, was sitting in the bus while it was in the depot, waiting for it to leave, when the conductor boarded it and asked him to get off; an altercation ensued
Asking for a simple favour to ease his commute exposed first year law student Johnson Durai Manikum to physical assault yesterday. Manikum, who is handicapped, was slapped by a BEST bus conductor, because he chose to wait inside the bus at the depot, instead of boarding it from the first bus stop.
Assaulted: Durai (left) was accompanied to the police station by his friend Anand, who said they would lodge a complaint
Durai (28), who is afflicted with polio, was on his way to Kamraj Vidyalaya in Dharavi, after receiving treatment at Sion Hospital. Since he has difficulty walking, he climbed aboard the bus on route 173 while it was on its way to the Rani Laxmibai Chowk bus depot in Sion.
Durai, who is a law student, said, “I boarded the bus from Sion Hospital while it was on its way to the depot. The same bus was to go to Dharavi, my destination. I requested the conductor and the driver who had brought the bus to the depot to allow me to sit at the seat for handicapped persons.
Soon, another driver and conductor boarded the bus. The conductor Sudhir Kandalgaonkar asked me to get off the bus and board it from the bus stop.
I told him about my handicap and requested him to let me stay in the bus, since it would go to Dharavi. He started hurling abuses at me. Putting his bag down, he grabbed my T-shirt and slapped me hard. I told him to take me to the police station.”
Ashok Shinde, assistant sub-inspector, said that a non-cognisable complaint has been registered against the conductor. He said, “We have registered a non-cognisable offence against the conductor. He has been charged with voluntarily causing hurt, intentional insult with intent to provoke, breach of peace and criminal intimidation. We have made a report and sent it to the inspector of the BEST bus depot.”
The other side
Sudhir Kandalgaonkar said, “I have been serving as a conductor for over 20 years and have never been in such a situation. I was not aware that the boy was handicapped. I did not slap him. In fact, he was speaking rudely, which led to a verbal altercation. As a rule, whenever the bus comes into the depot, passengers have to get down, and board the bus when it goes to the stand. But this boy refused to get down, even though I told him what the rules were.”