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Mother-son drown in car

- COPS REFUSED TO DIVE INTO COLD WATER FOR RESCUE: FAMILY

The Honda Civic in which the mother and son drowned to death after the car...

A homemaker and her elder son were killed early on Thursday after their Honda Civic, being driven by her younger son, fell into a ditch on a stretch of Basanti Highway, off the EM Bypass.

Soumik Das, 24, who was at the wheel and survived the crash alleged that his mother and brother could have been saved if the police had not first quibbled over jurisdiction and then refused to dive into the cold water of the ditch.

The Tollygunge family was headed to the Basirhat home of the elder son’s prospective in-laws. Sourav Das, 32, was to get married on Monday.

Around 4.30am, as the car turned turtle and sank in the 7ft deep ditch, Soumik, who cannot swim properly, managed to crawl out through a car window and clamber up to the road. He tried to stop passing cars for help to save his mother, Subhra Das, 52, and brother who were trapped in the car.

Officers from Pragati Maidan police station, under whose jurisdiction the road is, arrived within 10 minutes of the accident but allegedly passed the buck to Tiljala police station.

When their colleagues arrived, they allegedly said it was not possible for them to dive into the water since it was very cold and they were carrying guns, which they could not let go of. So, they just waited for the cranes to arrive.

.... plunged into the watery ditch on the Basanti Expressway early on Thursday

By the time the crane pulled the car out of the ditch almost two hours later, Subhra Das, 52, and Sourav, a mechanical engineer, were long dead.

Swapan Das, who runs an architecture firm, said his wife and sons were driving to Basirhat to formally invite Sourav’s would-be in-laws to the wedding. “Sourav had some work in Calcutta in the evening and so they started so early to be back by afternoon,” said Swapan.

According to the family, Subhra was sitting in the front while Sourav was in the backseat and both of them had dozed off.

Elder son Sourav Das, 32, who was to get married on Monday
Mother Subhra Das, 52
Younger son Soumik Das, 24, who was at the wheel and survived the crash. Pictures by Amit Datta

“As I neared the curve, I suddenly saw a truck approaching me and I swerved right. But there was no railing to the right and the car plunged into the ditch,” recounted Soumik.

The airbags inflated on collision. The car windows also automatically opened, which helped Soumik climb out. By the time Soumik was out, the car had sunk in the ditch and he could not pull out the others.

Soumik then stopped another truck and called his father from the driver’s cell phone and alerted him about the accident. He said the patrolling policemen who reached the accident spot first quibbled over jurisdiction and waited for their colleagues from the adjoining police station.

“I pleaded with them to save my mother and brother but they said the area was beyond their jurisdiction and they just kept standing. I approached some bystanders but they stayed away saying that the water was too cold. I dived into the water and tried to get them out but I am not a good swimmer and so I was not able to remain in the water for long,” said Soumik, a final-year mechanical engineering student.

“I reached the spot around 5.30am and even then no one had tried to save my family. When I asked a policeman about the wrecker, he said the wrecker driver at the Pragati Maidan police station was asleep and so they had requisitioned one from Lalbazar,” said Swapan.

Soumik further alleged that when a team from Tiljala police station reached the spot, even they refused to dive in. “The officers said that they were carrying guns and that the water was too cold and dirty and asked me to wait for the crane. Even when the crane came at 6.20am, none of the policemen went into the water to fix the hook. Had they helped me, my mother and brother could have been saved,” sobbed Soumik at the Keoratola crematorium in the evening.

The police denied the allegations. “There was no delay on part of Pragati Maidan police station to start the rescue operation,” said a senior police officer.

When asked why it took two hours for the car to be lifted from the ditch, the officer said: “Initially, the officers had tried to engage a truck to pull the car out but it was not possible. There was no option but to wait for the crane to pull the car.”

Thursday’s spot is one of the most accident-prone zones in the city with as many as six deaths in the past 18 months. The road leads to an IT hub and an industrial estate in Bantala and thousands of vehicles take the stretch every day.