The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mishap rerun sparks fury

Road accident followed by road rage was the order of the day in central Calcutta, leaving two pedestrians and several policemen injured, a couple of buses torched and traffic out of gear.

Trouble first erupted around 12.45 pm at the intersection of Vivekananda Road and Amherst Street. Witnesses said Sarfrazi Debi Tripathi, 92, was waiting to cross the road when a speeding private bus on route 78/C knocked her down.

The driver and the two conductors fled, even as local residents rushed to pick Tripathi up, put her into a taxi and take her to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

An angry mob ordered passengers off the bus before setting it ablaze. When the police arrived, the protesters refused to budge and demanded that “senior officers” from Lalbazar come and put a stop to rash driving in the area.

The mob soon started pelting stones at the police, who were forced to go on a lathicharge. Shopkeepers downed shutters and vehicles were diverted through other routes as the chaos spread.

Just as normalcy was being restored there, trouble broke out on Lenin Sarani after a bus knocked down a woman. Police said a private bus on route 218 was trying to overtake another bus on route 205 when it injured Alfa Popat, 28, standing near the edge of the pavement. The bus grazed her right leg.

Popat fell and a crowd quickly gathered on the spot, blaming the driver for the accident. Here, too, the driver and conductors had fled before the mob asked the passengers to disembark. The empty bus was torched and the police stoned when they arrived to disperse the mob and restore traffic flow.

The first batch of policemen was forced to retreat and call in reinforcements from Lalbazar. It took a larger contingent from the police headquarters to lathicharge the mob and clear Lenin Sarani.

Popat is known to have been discharged from Medical College and Hospital after first-aid.

Police said eight officers were injured in the two incidents. Four fire-tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames on Vivekananda Road and Lenin Sarani. Traffic was disrupted for more than two hours, sparking snarls in the central business district.

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