| The mangled minibus in Howrah. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Aug. 25: The chief minister is silent. The transport minister says he is helpless. Finally, it took a reader to paint the true picture.
But will the men who are supposed to keep the city’s roads safe do something after Calcutta’s killer buses again proved today that they are like a bunch of hungry wild dogs'
A 36-year-old woman died this morning, the sixth victim in nine days, after a minibus racing another towards Howrah Bridge lost control, crashed through the concrete railing of Bankim Setu and fell 10 feet below on a market complex.
Later in the day, a few kilometres away, another unidentified woman — in her mid-30s — was killed after a speeding minibus on the Prince Anwar Shah-Nimtala route knocked her down at Esplanade around 3pm.
The driver fled with his vehicle.
“The minibus hit her while overtaking a private car,” said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police, headquarters.
In Howrah, sari shop owner Shankar Chakraborty said passengers were screaming from inside the bus. “We hauled them out one by one,” said Chakraborty, one of the first to reach the spot.
“It appears that the accident occurred because the driver was trying to race ahead of another bus,” said Howrah police chief Niraj Kumar Singh. “If bus drivers resort to rash driving, what will the traffic police do'”
On Thursday, a day after 12-year-old Sudip Kumar Yadav died under the wheels of a speeding bus in Salt Lake, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty had said much the same thing when The Telegraph had approached him.
“I don’t know what to do,” the CPM veteran had said.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee didn’t even respond when his government was accused of doing nothing to reduce accidents.
Asked twice on his way out of Writers’ Buildings, he remained silent.
But The Telegraph’s readers poured their heart out, with one of them describing the buses as hungry wild dogs in a letter.
This morning, around 8.30, a furious Biswanath Das, who was behind the wheels of the Howrah Maidan-Baishnabghata minibus, pressed the accelerator. He wanted to catch the driver of another minibus, on the Bakultala-Salt Lake route, which had knocked off his rear-view mirror while trying to speed past.
On Bankim Setu, which leads to the approach road to Howrah Bridge, Das veered left to overtake the Salt Lake-bound bus, but found an Ambassador in the way. He swerved, lost control, smashed through the railing and fell on the single-storey Sanhati Market complex. The other bus escaped.
The woman died on the spot. Local residents climbed the roof of the complex and brought down the injured with ladders. “Then we took them to hospital,” said garment shop owner Rabin Pal.
“The driver is seriously injured. We will interrogate him after he recovers,” said SP Singh.