Drink-driving is not rampant in West Bengal. But in a first, a group of inebriated tour bus passengers — government employees, teachers and policemen — allegedly beat a dhaba owner to death in Midnapore because the food failed to please them.
Around 60 litres of alcohol was found in the bus.
Hit on the head with an iron rod, Sunil Kar, 46, died on the spot. His elder brother Swapan Kar, 56 – and two employees -- are battling for life in hospital.
The Kar brothers owned Hotel Paradise at Talibagicha on the national highway 60, which connects Bengal’s Raniganj and Odisha’s Baleshwar.
“There were about 55 tourists in the bus — all men — who were going to Doodhkundu in Odisha,” said Midnapore police superintendent Sunil Chowdhury.
Around 1 am on Tuesday, it had stopped at the dhaba and the passengers demanded food. Unaccustomed to handling so many guests at a late hour, the eatery staff struggled. Tempers rose and when the food came, the tourists found it was not to their taste. A fight broke out. The tourists had attacked the hotel staff and when the owners came to intervene, they were also attacked.
“We have arrested 35 passengers, the rest managed to flee,” said Chowdhury.
Among the men arrested, there were seven government employees -- two of them teachers – and four persons employed with the police. All of them had boarded in the bus from Mirzapara, Patnabazar and Katgola area in Midnapore.
“The arrested passengers have been produced in court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days,” Chowdhury said.