‘Buses had Karnataka numbers, were torched as I am a Tamil’

Speaking to The Indian Express from Bengaluru, Natarajan said the mob first destroyed all the CCTV cameras.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published:September 14, 2016 1:14 am
 cauvery, cauvery water issue, bangalore violence, bengaluru violence,  Siddaramaiah, cauvery water dispute, cauvery dispute, cauvery issue, cauvery row, cauvery karnataka, cauvery death, cauvery arrest, cauvery tamil nadu, bengaluru curfew, karnataka curfew, cauvery protests, karnataka news, india news, indian express news, latest news The charred buses. PTI photo

AS THE violence escalated in Bengaluru on Monday, K P Natarajan, the 67-year-old owner of K P N Travels, thought he had no reason to worry. His buses had already been taken off the roads.

Even when a mob of about 200 people reached Nayandahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, where his buses were parked, he was not unduly worried, as all his 50-odd luxury buses had Karnataka registration numbers. But the mob torched all the buses.

“They torched them because I am a Tamil,” said Natarajan.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Bengaluru, Natarajan said the mob first destroyed all the CCTV cameras. “Then they attacked the drivers and cleaners before pouring petrol on all the vehicles and tools kept in the shed,” he said.

Alleging a pre-planned attack, he said his bus depot “was close to two other private bus depots owned by Kannadigas. Not a single KPN bus that was torched had a Tamil Nadu registration number. So it is clear that they were targeting me. The total loss is about Rs 12 crore.”

Stating that no Karnataka government official had contacted him so far, he said: “I have received calls from the offices of the Tamil Nadu DGP and some ministers.”

Natarajan, who was earlier a bus driver, bought his first bus in 1967. He drove that bus on the Madurai-Bengaluru route for the next 10 years, before gradually buying more buses to become the owner of one of the largest fleet of buses in South India.

“I own hundreds of buses, and my family members have many more. I cannot tell you the exact number of buses I own, I need to check,” said Natarajan, agreeing that the total would be 400-500, besides hundreds of trucks.