The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crushed cars, mob missiles

Sanghatik! Jibone aami erokom accident dekhini. Shob gari edik-odik chhoriye, aar shara rasta roktey bhaschhey… (Horrifying! I have never seen an accident like this in my life. Vehicles scattered all over the place and the street awash with blood.)”

The words came out in a rush as Kanak Mukherjee, a resident of the Gariahat area, recounted the aftermath of the terrible accident near Bijon Setu on Tuesday morning.

The shock among office-goers and local residents soon turned to fury as the chain reaction after the crash spiralled out of control, leaving a trail of destruction and disruption in its wake. Traffic along the crucial connector between Gariahat and the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass remained out of gear till noon.

It was 8.45 am when the Gariahat-bound Calcutta State Transport Corporation bus sped down the bridge over Ballygunge railway station, lost control and rammed into two-wheelers and private cars, killing two people and seriously injuring six.

“I was among the first to reach the spot and soon, hundreds gathered trying to comprehend the extent of the tragedy,” said S.K. Bhattacharya, a sergeant with the east traffic guard.

“Suddenly, I spied the hand of a child on the rear windscreen of a Fiat. I smashed the glass and pulled out the child. To my relief, she was not hurt. The two women in the car managed to crawl out and I handed the child over to them,” he added.

But this won him no Brownie points, as the mob had found its villain of the moment. “Everyone turned on me, as if I was to blame for the accident. Before I could realise what was happening, they first targeted my motorcycle. After kicking and stoning it, they started pelting stones at me. I was saved by our force, that reached in the nick of time to control the mob,” recounted Bhattacharya.

Most witnesses agreed with Kanak Mukherjee — that the accident was among the most horrible they had seen. “The Fiat was smashed to pulp as the bus first rammed into it and then almost ran over it. The driver died on the spot, with the steering wheel smashing into his chest and slamming him against the seat,” recounted D. Mitra, another resident of the area. “The man on the two-wheeler, whose vehicle was dragged under the wheels of the killer bus, could hardly be recognised,” added Mitra.

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