Naseeruddin Lashkar would arrive at the gates of Khanpara Primary School, in Metiabruz, every day at 3pm to take daughter Meja back home.
On Monday, the man who runs a small tailoring unit had gone to BBD Bag but promised his daughter, a student of Class I, that he would be back to take her home.
School gave over a couple of hours early and six-year-old Meja decided not to wait for her father and walk back home to Majherpara, less than a kilometre away.
Meja did not reach home. At 1.30pm, a speeding autorickshaw knocked her down, overturned on her and crushed her to death.
The tragedy took place when the auto lost control while overtaking another auto from the left. The killer three-wheeler rammed into Meja. She fell down and the auto toppled over, killing the girl.
Meja was rushed to a local hospital, where she was declared brought dead.
A mob then went on the rampage at Khanpara. The killer auto was smashed and the driver beaten up and later arrested.
Two shops on AK Deb Road — a cycle-repairing unit and another selling auto parts — were set ablaze. Another auto on the same route was also burnt. With a police contingent failing to control the mob, combat force and Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed to restore order.
“Police yahaan auto driver aur union ki mutthi mein hai (police are in their grip). The police and the autos are to blame for the murder of the girl,” complained Mohammad Rafiq, among those who had carried Meja’s lifeless body to hospital.
Late on Monday, father Naseeruddin was crying inconsolably, while mother Shakila Bibi could barely utter a word, clinging on to their three-year-old son, at their Majherpara home.
“Every day, her father used to fetch her from school. Only today, she was coming back home alone and look what has happened. Meri bachchi...,” mumbled Shakila.
Local MLA Khaleq Mollah of the Congress alleged that the entire stretch from Metiabruz police station to Khanpara had become the happy hunting ground of “illegal autos”, thanks to police patronage. “The administration just refuses to act,” he said.
In a routine knee-jerk reaction, Praveen Kumar, the superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas), promised action. “A move to regulate the autos plying in the area will be taken after a meeting with the local residents.”
That will be of little use to the grieving parents of little Meja.