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Monkey on his back, driver runs wild

New Delhi, March 31: Driver Kumar Prabhakaran couldn’t leave his “friend” behind. Now trouble isn’t leaving him.

The young man is almost accused of “monkeying around” — steering a government-contracted bus with a monkey perched on his shoulder before he rammed the vehicle into a house, broke its wall and injured three persons today.

The friendship almost cost him his life: an angry crowd bayed for his blood but he managed to escape. He has lost his job and he could be sent to jail.

Police said Prabhakaran and his “friend” were sharing a particularly affectionate moment when things went awry: the animal was picking lice from the 22-year-old’s hair, possibly lulling him into a lazy trance, when he lost control.

Onlookers were stunned to see the animal scamper out of the vehicle moments after the accident in west Delhi. Fortunately, the bus, which some claimed was part of a feeder service for Delhi Metro commuters, had only two passengers. The injured were said to be pedestrians who couldn’t move away.

According to the passengers, the monkey had been a nuisance even when was not playing around with Prabhakaran, a disturbance throughout the journey as it scampered from part of the bus to another.

The passengers claimed that they didn’t bother to protest Prabhakaran’s “joy ride” as it was a short journey, all of 8km. They also said they didn’t want to lose time and miss their trains by confronting the driver.

“It was ridiculous. We have arrested Prabhakaran and charged him with negligence. It was his good luck that he didn’t kill anyone and wasn’t killed by the crowd which was baying for his blood,” said a police officer.

Prabhakaran confessed to having brought the three-month-old monkey — police officers don’t know yet if the animal answered to a name — from his village as he didn’t want to leave his “friend” back home while he was at work.

Prabhakaran’s bus had a Delhi Metro logo, but officials of the government transport utility denied that it was one of their vehicles. “Our feeder bus services run only in east Delhi. This incident happened in west Delhi and our buses don’t run there. I assume these are buses owned privately and given permits by the Delhi Transport Authority. They too have the DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) logo,” said a spokesperson for the DMRC.

The drivers of such buses are not employees of the government but of the contractor — so Prabhakaran and his pet are answerable to none for their “joy ride”.

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