A five-year-old kindergarten girl died after being knocked down by the chartered school bus she had alighted from with her mother near Park Circus on Tuesday afternoon.
Witnesses told police that the bus started moving even as Kasira Yusuf got off with her mother Shabnam Begum on Jhowtala Road, grazing her before one of the rear wheels struck her head.
The student of Upper KG at St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School was declared dead at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital.
Mother and daughter had got off the bus — not part of the school’s fleet — in the middle of the road around 12.30pm. “I was holding my daughter’s right hand and trying to go across the road when the bus grazed her. I screamed ‘Bus roko, bus roko (stop the bus)’ but the driver didn’t stop,” Shabnam, 28, recounted.
Kasira was unconscious and bleeding from her nose and ears when her mother took her to hospital, cradling the little girl in her arms. “She was brought dead. It seems one of the wheels struck her head very hard,” a doctor said.
The spot where the accident occurred is between the Afza and Krazy Kebab restaurants on Jhowtala Road, a route that many vehicles take to avoid the Park Circus crossing and get on the AJC Bose Road flyover.
The bus had entered Syed Amir Ali Avenue from Gurusaday Road and taken a left from opposite an under-construction mall to enter Jhowtala Road. The vehicle, WB-11A-8396, belongs to Chowdhury Travels of 35/N Radha Madhab Dutta Garden Lane in Beleghata and ferries around 30 children to and from their homes.
“We have started a case against the driver for death due to negligence. We are trying to trace him and impound the vehicle,” deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Dilip Adak said.
Negligent driving leading to someone’s death is a bailable offence that carries a maximum punishment of two years in jail.
The owner of Chowdhury Travels told Metro that WB-11A-8396 was registered in the name of a friend’s wife and that he had been using it as a chartered school bus for around a year.
Vehicles need to acquire a contract carriage permit to ferry schoolchildren. The police have yet to find out whether the bus that knocked down Kasira has one.
“Our school has a few buses but one was privately arranged by a group of parents. We insist that parents opt for the school bus service and not a private one,” an official of St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School said.
According to a mother who was in the bus, the conductor had asked Shabnam not to get off the vehicle where she and her daughter did. “The bus had stopped because of traffic and Kasira got down, forcing her mother to almost jump off the vehicle to hold her hand.
Shabnam and her daughter were not regulars on that bus. “I would occasionally tip the conductor to drop me and my daughter near Park Circus,” she said.
Kasira’s father Md. Yusuf has been employed in Riyadh for the past 10 years and visits the city twice a year. Sources close to the family, which stays at 17 Syed Amir Ali Avenue, said in the evening that Yusuf had been informed of the tragedy and was on his way to Calcutta.
Around 40,000 illegal pool cars and buses operate in Calcutta, ferrying 50,000 children daily. The government has announced a crackdown but vigilance remains a problem.
Owners of pool cars and buses operating without permits had been asked to get their documents in order by September 7. Transport minister Madan Mitra said while setting the deadline in March that registration would be cancelled if any such vehicle was found flouting the order.
Class III girl killed
A 10-year-old girl returning from school died after a truck hit the rickshaw van she was in from behind on the Basanti highway, off Science City, on Tuesday afternoon. Sampa Mondal was a Class III student at Chowbaga Vidya Pramanik School.