However, by next day morning, Mondal got to see the righteous side of the citizens of the state with many of them expressing solidarity with him, both in person and through the social media. As the night passed, a video of the incident went viral on social media prompting police to register a case. By Sunday afternoon, police tracked down and arrested the accused –– a 47-year-old autorickshaw driver named Suresh Kumar alias Kadala Suresh of Mukkola.
The incident happened at Mukkola near Vizhinjam around 9.30pm on Saturday. According to witnesses, Kumar’s rickshaw hit Mondal while the former was trying to park his vehicle, driving in reverse gear. Mondal was stepping into a mobile phone recharge shop beside the road when he was hit by the rickshaw.
“When Mondal questioned his rash and negligent driving style, the accused slapped him on his face and started verbally abusing him,” said Vizhinjam SHO S B Praveen.
However, an onlooker recorded the episode on his mobile phone and shared it on WhatsApp groups. The video that went viral within half-an-hour, reached the police too. Soon, a probe was launched. Though Kumar tried to flee, police tracked him down and arrested him by Sunday afternoon.
In the video, Kumar can be seen demanding Mondal’s ID proof documents. He even snatched them when Mondal took them out. However, he returned them before leaving the scene.
He was charged with relevant sections of attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, using obscene language, causing hurt and wrongful restraint. He was produced before a court and remanded in judicial custody.
Police said that Kumar had another case pending in the station. It pertained to a similar assault on a 22-year-old youth who worked in a mobile phone shop at Mukkola. The incident happened inside the shop. Though a complaint was filed on the same day, police had failed to take any action.
Residents in the area said that the accused was a substance addict and had even undergone a rehabilitation programme.
Meanwhile, Mondal was overwhelmed by the support he received. He admitted that he planned on booking a rail ticket back to Bengal in the morning itself, after he faced the harassment.
“Everywhere there will be at least one person like him (the accused), who are trouble makers,” said Goutam in broken Malayalam, adding that he does not hold any ill-will towards the people here for the actions of one man. Mondal currently resides in a labourers’ camp at Mukkola.