|The car that crushed to death an eight-year-old schoolboy. (Jahid Mohammad)
The university student whose car crushed to death an eight-year-old schoolboy while she was reversing the vehicle might have made a mistake that police say is common to new drivers — pressing the accelerator in trying to slam the brakes.
Shreya Sarbadhikary, 22, has had a driving licence for two years but told the police that she pressed the accelerator by mistake. “The accused says she saw the boy and intended to brake but her foot found the accelerator,” an officer said.
Eight-year-old Shubham Sharma, a resident of a slum close to Shreya’s Lake Town home, was returning home with his father around noon on Saturday when the Chevrolet Spark crushed him against a wall. Shreya had been trying to park the car in her home garage when the tragedy occurred.
The arrested mass communication student was produced in a Bidhannagar court on Sunday and remanded in judicial custody till October 9. She has been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, carrying a maximum jail term of 10 years.
Public prosecutor Shabir Ali opposed Shreya’s bail plea on the ground that she was not proficient in driving and hence could have allowed the family driver to park the car, which requires reversing in the narrow lane.
Shreya’s father Kunal Sarbadhikary said the engine stalled just when his daughter was trying to park the car inside the garage and the wheels rolled backwards, crushing the schoolboy against the wall.
“I haven’t been able to speak to my daughter. But my wife told me that the engine stalled and the slope at the garage’s entrance made the car reverse on its own. It was a freak accident,” said Kunal, a chartered accountant. “My daughter is devastated. Who could have imagined such a thing would happen?”
The police have sent the Spark for a mechanical test.
The Telegraph had highlighted on Sunday how training at driving schools and the licence test conducted by the public vehicles department are a sham.“Even after driving for nearly a year, I mistakenly press the accelerator instead of the brakes at times. During my training, I was never taught how to reverse,” said a 21-year-old who recently got his licence.
Many candidates who take the test are surprised to hear they need to drive barely 250 metres, often along a straight line. Driving home the inadequacy of the PVD procedure is the experience of a Calcuttan who has twice failed a licence test in Muscat, Oman, despite driving in India for five years. “In that part of the world, people throw parties when they get a licence,” the NRI, visiting home for Puja, said.