Residents of the Mahestala area, on the city’s southern fringe, woke up to a tragedy on Sunday morning, in which an 18-year-old pedestrian Nasib Ali Naskar, was crushed under the wheels of a loaded dumper on Budge Budge Trunk Road. Three others were seriously injured.
The incident triggered protests from residents, who put up a road blockade for over three hours, disrupting traffic. The situation worsened when they went on the rampage, manhandling the driver and damaging the vehicle. Several passing vehicles were also damaged by the mob. Officials, who had a tough time controlling the protesters, however, saved the driver from getting lynched. They also detained five people for alleged involvement in the violence.
Agitated residents also blocked Budge Budge Trunk Road, demanding a police picket in the area to prevent recurrence of accidents. They submitted a memorandum to the local police station, demanding compensation to the family of the victim and the injured.
The accident took place early on Sunday while Ali and three others were crossing the road near Chandan Nagar bus terminus. The dumper, carrying coal to a factory, arrived so swiftly that they had no chance to flee.
People waiting nearby for transport stopped the first bus to arrive and rushed the injured to a local hospital, where Ali was declared brought dead. The condition of the three others is stated to be critical. Agitated bystanders pounced on the driver and started beating him up. A number of dumpers coming by that route were also damaged.
A posse, led by the officer-in-charge of Mahestala police station, reached the spot and prevented the situation from taking an uglier turn.
Ajoy Som, Trinamul Congress leader, said the residents’ resentment was understandable, as the the police, despite several reminders, failed to check the plying of dumpers and lorries in the area. “The protest is a natural outburst against the administration,” he added.
“After every road mishap, we appeal for a traffic guard to be posted in the area. We are assured there will be one but nothing happens. During the past year, there have been more than a dozen accidents, at least two of them fatal, but the police had done nothing to improve the traffic system,” an elderly man said.
Additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh said that since Budge Budge Trunk Road always remains busy, the police have plans to strengthen the traffic guard in the area.
“Actually, the district police is running short of traffic guards, and we have to make do with whatever hands we have. Still, we are trying our best to regulate traffic on the road. In this case, we shall take up the matter with the owner of the dumper so that the victim’s family, as well as the injured, get some compensation,” Singh asserted.