Adrika, 4, who suffered multiple fractures and injuries and has undergone two surgeries, lies in bed at home on Sunday. Picture by Sayantan Ghosh
Calcutta, Aug. 19: A four-year-old girl fell off a speeding auto and was dragged along as the driver refused to stop but three days on, police seem too scared to arrest the man lest other auto drivers create street mayhem.
Adrika Ghoshal, a Lower KG student at Cossipore English Medium School, was travelling home with her mother on north Calcutta’s Sinthee-Kuthighat route on Thursday morning when the incident left her grievously wounded and traumatised.
“She can’t sleep properly. In her sleep, she suddenly starts screaming: ‘Maa ami bhoy pachchhi (mom, I’m scared)’,” said Adrika’s mother Sarmistha, 29.
Adrika is likely to be bedridden for at least two months with multiple fractures in her left leg, severe injuries to her right leg and bruises across her face and body. She has had surgery on the fractured leg and another for abdominal bruises.
Last night, her parents brought her back from the nursing home to their three-storey house at Maharaja Nanda Kumar Road in Baranagar.
Hours after her family had lodged a complaint with Cossipore police station on Friday, a group of men claiming to be from the Trinamul-run auto union had turned up at the nursing home. They asked Adrika’s father Anit, a manager at Panasonic’s Calcutta office, to withdraw the complaint.
“They said it was ‘only a mistake by a young boy’. One of them said I shouldn’t have lodged a complaint because we would have to continue living in that locality,” Anit said.
He hasn’t withdrawn the complaint but the police have been of little help.
“We don’t even know the auto driver’s name since the lady couldn’t give us the vehicle’s number. However, we are trying to find him,” said a senior officer of the Shyambazar Traffic Guard, to whom the case has been transferred.
The Telegraph today spoke to several auto drivers on the route who named the accused as Sanjay and said he had plied his auto till Friday evening. He stopped after the girl’s parents refused to withdraw the complaint. “He’s still at his home in Baranagar,” said a driver.
An officer at Cossipore police station seemed to spill the beans, saying: “It is easier to catch thieves and robbers than auto drivers. The moment we catch one for rash driving, other auto drivers block roads and set vehicles on fire. So, we prefer to turn a blind eye to their recklessness.”
Adrika and her mother had boarded the Kuthighat-bound auto from Sinthee More around 11.10am. Sarmistha said the driver began speeding immediately, before she had had time to settle her daughter properly in her lap while holding her school bag in her right hand.
“He was speeding recklessly on the uneven road when, during a sharp turn, my daughter slipped off the auto,” Sarmistha said.
“Half her body was on the road... I grabbed her left hand and screamed to the driver to stop. He looked back but continued speeding.”
Sarmistha asked fellow passengers for help, apparently in vain. It was a matter of a few seconds — Adrika was dragged for about 30 metres —but the male passenger in the front seat could have forced the driver to stop if he wanted, she believes.
“I held onto my daughter as she was dragged along. A few seconds later, her left leg came under the rear wheel and I lost grip,” Sarmistha said.
“I pulled the auto driver by his collar. Almost choking, he stopped the auto. I jumped out and ran to my daughter; the auto fled with the other passengers.”
Adrika was bleeding all over and screaming in pain. Some people helped them into another auto, which took them to a nursing home.