The bike of Ganesh Prajapati, the victims’ uncle, on NH-33 in Hazaribagh on Wednesday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Two Hazaribagh sisters aged five and three, returning home from school on their uncle’s bike, died on the spot on Wednesday when a truck, impatient with the jam caused by former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto’s carcade, picked up speed and hit the two-wheeler on NH-33.
As Aashi Raj (5), a prep student of St Xavier’s School, and Priya Raj (3), of Seedling Play School, fell under the impact of the truck’s collision, its wheels crushed their unprotected heads.
Ganesh Prajapati, their uncle, who was wearing a helmet, escaped with bruises.
The accident occurred near the narrow Konar bridge of the highway around 12.15pm, where according to eyewitnesses police green-lighted Sudesh’s Barhi-bound carcade, holding up the rest of the traffic.
In one blow, Mukundganj residents — photography studio owner Mithilesh Kumar Prajapati and homemaker Sarita — were rendered childless.
Eyewitnesses said police had asked the truck to pause, but the driver ignored the signal. After the accident, driver Babu was hauled up and taken to muffasil police station.
For nearly an hour from the tragedy, an angry mob pelted stones on passing vehicles.
Though a team of policemen prevented the situation from spiralling out of hand and took the bodies away for autopsy at Hazaribagh sadar hospital, tempers simmered on at the highway, the site of the accident, and later at Mukundganj, where the girls had lived.
What might have angered the residents more was muffasil officer-in-charge A.K. Sinha’s insistence that he was not aware of any VIP cavalcade crossing the stretch.
School bags of sisters Aashi and Priya, the bike and Ganesh’s helmet lay for hours on the highway.
Residents squarely blamed the police for not controlling the Ajsu chief’s carcade well.
People blamed the police for ignoring the safety of the common man while giving a free run to the VIP cavalcade, which they said was against traffic norms.
At the Mukundganj residence, the shock of the deaths made father Mithilesh and mother Sarita speechless. Mithilesh kept on saying he should have died in place of his daughters. “I don’t know how to go on living without my daughters,” he sobbed.
Mother Sarita was too numb to speak.
Father P.J. James of St Xavier’s School, where Aashi studied, rushed sadar hospital in the afternoon after getting the news of the tragedy.
“It is extremely unfortunate that two young lives were snuffed out. The school extends its heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Sarita and Mithilesh,” the principal said, announcing the school would stay closed on Thursday as a mark of respect. “The examination due to be held on September 26 will be held on October 1 now. We will host a prayer meeting on September 30 morning on campus,” he said.
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