Calcutta, Nov. 17: One hand firmly gripping her five-year-old son as she crossed the busy street, Shakuntala Sinha signalled the bus with the other, expecting it to stop at the usual place.
But this morning, probably because it was racing another bus, No. 230 just sped on, crushing the 32-year-old woman under its wheels and sending the boy to hospital with severe injuries.
Mother and son were hurrying across AJC Bose Road at its intersection with Chowringhee, from the Metro station side to the pavement before the Haldiram’s outlet, where they expected to catch the 230.
It would take them to St James School where the boy, Sayak, studied.
Eyewitnesses said Shakuntala had managed to cross one half of the road ' busy even at 7.30 am ' when she spotted the approaching 230. She waved her hand at it and at the same time quickened her steps so that she would not miss the bus.
There is no clear explanation why the bus didn’t stop in front of Haldiram’s like it always does, even though it isn’t a designated stop.
“There are allegations that it was racing another bus, but there is no corroboration of this,” said Javed Shamim, deputy commissioner (traffic).
Buses at the chaotic crossing hardly follow any rule about where to stop, some commuters said.
Some witnesses claimed Shakuntala’s dupatta got entangled in the wheels and she was dragged along before being crushed. The police wouldn’t confirm this.
Normally, Shakuntala 'who was to celebrate her ninth wedding anniversary tomorrow ' would have borrowed her father’s car to take Sayak to his school, where she herself was a part-time teacher. But today, her father, dental surgeon Bijoy Banerjee, told her he would need the car for himself.
So Shakuntala and Sayak left their home in Russell Street and took a bus from Jeevan Deep to the AJC Bose Road crossing, planning to change buses there.
Immediately after the accident, mother and son were taken to the nearby SSKM Hospital where she was declared dead and Sayak admitted with grave injuries. Banerjee later shifted his grandson to a nursing home.
Sayak’s father Sanjiv Sinha, who had been away on work in Bhubaneswar, reached the city in the afternoon and rushed to the nursing home.
Angry pedestrians caught and beat up one of the conductors before handing him over to Maidan police. The driver was arrested from his home at Sodepur.