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Van kills two, lands in river

- NH-23 mishap spurs six-hour blockade

A van carrying chicken mowed down two cyclists and injured two more before plunging 25 feet onto the side of a river at Kamlapur, about 29km from Bokaro steel city, on Wednesday.

The accident took place on a road leading to Khajo bridge on NH-23 from Bokaro’s side around 4am, triggering a six-hour blockade by local residents on the arterial link.

The dead have been identified as coal bearers Mohammad Taslim Ansari (25) and Majid Ansari (55), while the injured are Majid’s 24-year-old son Pilani Ansari and another youth, Ghulam Sarwar (32).

The four residents of Bagiyari village in Kasmar block, 6km from the accident spot, were cycling their way to Petarwar to get coal. The van, which was coming from Ramgarh to Bokaro in high speed, hit them just when they were about to get on the bridge over Khajo river.

“From what eyewitnesses have told us, the accident appears to have occurred because of the van driver’s fault. The cyclists had stuck to one side of the road. But the four-wheeler suddenly lost control while negotiating a bend on its way down from the bridge. It went on to hit the cyclists one after the other, crushing Taslim and Majid and injuring the other two before falling down on the dry banks of Khajo river below,” said Bokaro superintendent of police (SP) Jitendra Singh.

The depth of water at the river is hardly two to three feet and the van landed with its face down on the dry riverbed, killing several chicken, the police officer added.

The driver fled the spot, leaving behind the damaged vehicle.

Hearing the loud noise and cries of the victims, villagers living in nearby areas rushed to the spot and rescued the injured, who were rushed to a private nursing home at Jaina More.

They are out of danger now.

Pilani, who broke his backbone in the accident, said: “I think that the van’s driver had dozed off and lost control of the vehicle at the turn. All of us were hit one by one after which the vehicle fell down in Khajo river.”

The mishap prompted strong protests. A section of local villagers squatted on NH-23 and blocked movement of vehicles, demanding compensation for the victims’ next of kin. They only allowed board examinees and students to pass after they showed their admit and identity cards.

The protest was lifted only after district officials came around 10.30am and gave Rs 10,000 each to families of Taslim and Majid besides promising houses under Indira Awas Yojna.

“A case has been lodged against the driver, who is yet to be identified, for negligent driving,” SP Singh said.