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Schoolgirl death triggers mob fury

Calcutta, July 10: Even before the blood has dried on the killing of a couple on a motorcycle at Park Circus by a speeding bus, an 11-year-old schoolgirl was crushed to death under the wheels of a van on the newly-opened Rajarhat-New Town road.

Angry local residents turned the area into a battlefield, smashing and burning police cars, breaking down railings and road dividers, pulling down traffic signals and attacking the police when they came to restore order.

The mishap occurred around 10.30 am on the EM Bypass connector when the van was trying to overtake a Tata Sumo moving in the same direction. Rituparna Adhikari, a Class IV student of Tegharia free primary school, was crossing the road with elder brother Sajal and his two friends, when she was run over.

Eyewitnesses said Rituparna and Sajal did not notice the two vehicles trying to overtake each other. “Though Sajal’s friends saw the speeding vehicles and pulled him back, they could not save his sister,” said Praveen Kumar, the superintendent of police of North 24-Parganas.

The van hit Rituparna, killing her on the spot. Later, the driver was arrested.

As the news spread, hundreds of people blocked the intersection of Rajarhat-Baguiati road and New Town road. Some policemen reached the spot in a jeep half-an-hour after the accident, but the mob refused to hand over the girl’s body. The police wielded batons to clear the blockade, but the mob retaliated, pelting stones.

“Some of them broke open the fuel tank of the jeep and set it ablaze,” said an officer of Baguiati police outpost.

Swapan Adhikari, the dead girl’s father, said though this is the first accident here since the connector was opened, there have been at least seven fatal mishaps at the spot since April.

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