A string of accidents leading to deaths, road rage and traffic disruptions marked Christmas eve in the city on Tuesday.
On Kona Expressway, near Howrah town, the police fought a pitched battle with the local people protesting the death of a Saber Ali Naskar, who was killed after his motorcycle was hit by a truck. His pillion-rider was seriously injured. Subsequently, a mob of nearly 100 people turned violent and attacked the policemen.
Three policemen were injured as the mob threw bombs and brickbats at the police party. The cops retaliated with a lathicharge. They also fired in the air and burst teargas shells.
Howrah’s superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said the Rapid Action Force was deployed to disperse the mob. According to an eyewitness, as news of the death spread in the area, local people gathered and began to throw stones at trucks and other vehicles. They blocked the road and prevented police from removing the body. Police said 10 vehicles were badly damaged. The mob tried to ransack a lorry carrying detergent.
In another incident, four children and a youth were seriously injured when some crude bombs burst near Tallah bridge, in north Calcutta, early in the morning. The injured, who belong to the same family, have been admitted to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital and were operated upon. They are said to be in a serious condition.
Officers said the bombs, stacked in a jute bag, exploded when the children tried to remove it. The bag belonged to some criminals who were playing cards, keeping it by their side. When they were making a getaway on seeing a police van, one of the children tried to remove the bag, triggering off an explosion. None of the criminals was injured. Hundreds of people assembled on the spot and removed the injured to hospital. They submitted a memorandum to Chitpur thana, demanding the immediate arrest of the criminals.
At noon, tension mounted in the Lake Town area when policemen from Burtola police station arrested Dilip Banerjee, a criminal, in connection with a recent theft. Banerjee has been absconding for over three months.
North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Harisen Verma said acting on a tip-off, the district police, in collaboration with the Burtola police, had nabbed the goon. Banerjee is wanted in connection with a number of cases of theft and murder.
Mob fury erupted on the main road and its offshoots in Topsia at 8.30 am on Tuesday, crippling traffic movement, after a woman was crushed under the wheels of a State Surface Transport Corporation bus. Basanti Dalui, 50, was run over while crossing Gobinda Khatik Road, off the Park Circus connector to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, in a hurry.
A number of vehicles, including a police van, were damaged by the mob. Both the driver and the conductor of the killer bus fled. A few people tried to set passing vehicles on fire, but timely intervention by the police saved the situation. Local people put up a roadblock demanding a speedbreaker on the road. Police persuaded the agitators to lift the blockade.
Dalui was rushed to National Medical College and Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Soon after the accident, some angry local people began to throw brickbats and other missiles at the killer bus, bringing it to a grinding halt.
The agitated crowd damaged two other government buses that were passing by. A police patrol van that was waiting there, too, was attacked by the mob. The mob broke its windshield and glass panes.
Later, a police officer said the driver possibly lost control of the vehicle at a sharp turn. “However, the actual reason of the accident can be ascertained only after receiving the mechanical report,” he added.
Local people said accidents occur there frequently because vehicles approaching the city via the Bypass do not slow down as they approach the busy zone. The past three months have witnessed several accidents but none of which was fatal.