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Pool car in mishap rerun
- Speeding vehicle with 13 schoolchildren hits lamp post, overturns

A pool car packed with 13 children on way to school rammed into a lamp post and overturned on James Long Sarani on Thursday.

While most students were released after first aid, four had to be admitted to a local nursing home with multiple injuries. Doctors said they would be kept under observation for the next 24 hours.

On July 19, Kaustav Bhattacharya, a Class III student of South Point School, died after the illegal pool car in which he was going to school with other children crashed into a stationary bus on VIP Road.

Thursday’s mishap occurred while a Tata Sumo and a Maruti van, both carrying students of Gurukul Vidya Mandir, Pailan, were racing against each other.

Both vehicles are owned by Sudipto Chatterjee, a resident of Behala. While a youth called Ujjal was driving the Sumo, Chatterjee’s brother Supratim was at the wheel of the Maruti.

Police said Ujjal lost control of the Sumo while trying to overtake the Maruti, rammed into a lamp post and mounted the divider. The car overturned under the impact.

Supratim has been arrested on a charge of rash driving. Ujjal is absconding “We are trying to contact the owner to ascertain whether the vehicles had the permit to ferry schoolchildren,” said Praveen Kumar, the superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas).

“I saw our car hit a lamp post and then everything went blank. Bystanders took me to a shop, from where I was brought to the nursing home,” recalled Shivam Dey, a Class VIII student, who suffered injuries on the hands and in the eyes.

His father Sushanta said: “Earlier, too, my child had complained of rash diving. I had reported the matter to the school officials, who spoke to the owner and got the matter resolved. But today’s incident proved that the respite had only been temporary.”

“We have three authorised school buses, but they cannot accommodate all the children,” said Gurukul Vidya Mandir principal Monideepa Mukherjee. “We had asked the parents if they needed more buses but they seemed to be comfortable with the pool cars, as they pick up and drop children at the doorstep.”

The Citu-affiliated Calcutta Car Pool Owners’ Association claimed neither vehicle was registered with it. Association secretary Santanu Saha said: “They ignored our repeated pleas to get the vehicles registered with our association.”

Saha and other association members will meet transport minister Subhas Chakraborty next week and ask for an early finalisation of the guidelines on pool cars. Around 1,400 vehicles are registered with the association, while there are another 2,000 that ferry children illegally.

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