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Man run over near encroached footpath

A 50-year-old man standing on the road in an area where most of the pavement is taken over by hawkers was run over by a goods vehicle near Hazra in south Calcutta on Wednesday afternoon.

It is unclear whether Debabrata Sen, a trader, had been waiting for public transport when the accident occurred. Police said he had left his Kalighat home at 2pm, saying he was going out on some work.

“He was standing on the road when he was hit by a Tata 407 that was travelling at high speed towards the Hazra crossing from Tollygunge,” said a traffic officer.

“He was flung a few metres on impact. Passers-by chased the vehicle and forced it to stop but the driver managed to flee,” the officer added.

Traffic cops posted nearby took Sen, who had suffered serious head injuries, to SSKM hospital in a taxi. But he was declared dead minutes later.

The pavements on either side of the road at the accident spot are taken over by hawkers. Hundreds of pedestrians, rather than negotiate the crowd, choose to walk on the road because it is easier though dangerous, said a resident of the area.

“We are left with no option but to walk on the road along the stretch between Kalighat and Bhowanipore. Hawkers have taken over all the pavements,” said a pedestrian who had witnessed the accident.

The police pleaded helplessness. “There have been drives to clear pavements near hospitals of hawkers. But we cannot act against the will of the state government,” said a senior officer.

Referring to Wednesday’s accident, an officer said: “Though the driver of the offending vehicle will be arrested, technically speaking, he was merely driving on the road. It becomes very difficult to drive if the crowd spills on the road.”

Sen, who was unmarried, is survived by an octogenarian mother and two brothers.