Four persons were killed and 10 others injured at Dakshineswar when a private bus overturned on Tuesday morning. Two of the victims were identified as Sampa Ghosh, 11, and Manoj, 22. The injured have been admitted to two local hospitals, where their condition is said to be critical.
Preliminary investigations suggested that the accident occurred around 8.40 am, when two private buses were speeding down the busy stretch connecting Barrackpore Trunk Road with Bally bridge. The bus on route number 79, heading from Alampur towards Dunlop, overturned while trying to negotiate a traffic island near Dakshineswar, where a number of people were waiting.
Mriganko Poddar, who was trapped under the bus, later said the vehicle overturned when the driver lost control after swerving at high speed. “I was waiting there to catch a bus for Sodepur after offering prayers at Dakshineswar, when the bus suddenly hurtled down on us. I remember being pulled out from under the vehicle by bystanders, who then rushed me to hospital,” he recounted. Poddar suffered injuries on his head and legs.
A cyclist who was negotiating the intersection was hit from behind by the bus, but had a near-miraculous escape. He suffered only cuts and bruises, though his cycle was completely smashed (picture on Page 22).
The initial rescue operation was carried out by residents of the area, who also arranged to take the injured to hospital. Later in the day, state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty reached the spot, before proceeding to Baranagar State General Hospital and Sagar Dutta State General Hospital.
After the accident, a roadblock was put up by people demanding the arrest of the bus driver who had managed to flee. Later, policemen from Belghoria thana reached the spot but struggled to disperse the crowd for around three hours. Traffic on the stretch was particularly heavy on the morning after Kali puja, police said.
Minister Chakraborty blamed the driver for the accident. “They are always trying to overtake another bus to earn more commission. This tendency needs to be checked,” he said. According to the transport minister, once a salary system is introduced, the number of accidents will drop.
Officer in charge of Belghoria police station Sekhar Basu said rash driving is a common problem in the area. “Recently, we slapped fines on some drivers and even seized their licences. We have plans to introduce more stringent measures, for which we are in talks with the district motor vehicles department,” added Basu.
He also called for more traffic personnel to be deployed at some strategic spots along the busy stretch to Dakshineswar.