| The grandmother of Beauty Das asking why her beloved granddaughter had not returned home on Tuesday afternoon. Picture by Pabitra Das
She tried her best to stop the speeding bus by waving her little left hand at the bus driver. But the desperate “Kaku, thamao (uncle, stop)…” cries of Beauty Das were drowned in the Tuesday morning din at Ultadanga as the bus on route 44A rammed into the bicycle of her father Netai Das.
The nine-year-old girl was knocked off by the impact and the wheels of the bus rolled over the Class III student of Lake Town Girls’ School.
“The girl tried to stop the bus by desperately waving her left hand. She was shouting at the bus driver to stop, but the bus raced on,” said Sheikh Yusuf, a witness to the tragedy near the Hudco intersection, off the police quarters in Ultadanga.
It was around 10.30 in the morning and Beauty was on her way back home from school on her father’s bicycle.
Near the turn towards the Hudco crossing, the bicycle was caught in the middle of the road, in the path of two speeding buses. Nitai tried to swerve left and make way for the racing buses.
But as soon as he changed lanes, the killer bus hit the bicycle from behind hurling father and daughter to the ground. While Netai Das fell to the safety of the left of the road, one of the front wheels of the bus in a hurry rolled over Beauty’s head.
Her father lay helpless, watching the white-and-ash uniform of the little girl turn red with her blood.
The accident sparked mob fury near the Hudco crossing. The angry crowd that gathered first battered the killer bus and then set it on fire. A state bus was also damaged as a 500-plus strong mob resorted to stone pelting.
A large contingent from adjoining police stations struggled to restore order as residents and commuters refused to let police remove the girl’s body from the spot. The protests continued for over 45 minutes, paralysing peak-hour traffic.
At the family’s Narkeldanga Main Road residence, mother Gopa Devi was inconsolable. Beauty, who missed school on Monday due to a family function, had got up early on Tuesday, packed her own bag and then set out for school with a smile.
“I wish I hadn’t sent her school even today,” cried Gopa Devi as husband Netai did the rounds of police station and mortuary to bring their girl home, one last time.