A Class XII boy was run over by his school bus on Friday afternoon when he slipped and fell while being allegedly made to alight in the middle of a rain-washed Salt Lake road with the vehicle in motion.
Indrajit Kundu, a student at Assembly of God Church School on Park Street, was within 100 metres of his house in the HC Block police quarters in Salt Lake when the tragedy occurred.
The 16-year-old was declared dead within minutes of being admitted to the nearby Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital with profuse bleeding from his nose and mouth. Doctors said the boy suffered fatal head and chest injuries.
“He was my only child and a very obedient boy. He was a huge football fan and had asked me to come home early tonight so that we could watch the World Cup matches together,” said Indrajit’s father Shyamsundar Kundu, an assistant sub-inspector with Calcutta police currently on deputation to the immigration department at the airport.
Police quoted witnesses as saying that driver Mohammed Salim, 47, had sped away even as bystanders screamed for him to stop after Indrajit fell and came under one of the rear wheels around 1.45pm.
A man identified as Sanatan Sardar, also a driver, ran after the school bus and stopped it around 200 metres away from the accident site at the GD Block rotary. Salim, hired a few months ago, was caught but his helper slipped out of the vehicle unnoticed. Three students were inside.
Assembly of God Church School said the bus belonged to a contracted private operator called George Travels and wasn’t part of the fleet of six buses managed by the institution. School principal Victor Singh, who visited the hospital in the afternoon and met Indrajit’s father, told Metro: “Parents need to directly contact the operator to opt for a bus that isn’t part of the school’s fleet.”
Many institutes in the city rely on private operators to run all their school buses and sometimes use that as an excuse to pass the buck if something untoward occurs.
Indrajit’s father hadn’t lodged a complaint against the bus driver or the school till late on Friday.
Kundu said he had just stepped out of his son’s school on Park Street after depositing the fees when he received a call from an officer at Bidhannagar South police station. By the time he reached the hospital, Indrajit was dead.
Till late on Friday, Indrajit’s mother Lily, a heart patient, didn’t know that he had died. Kundu had apparently requested his neighbours not to tell her that their son had succumbed to his injuries soon after the accident. “Our son wanted to be an automobile engineer. He would sketch cars on drawing sheets as well as on Adobe Illustrator all day long,” he said.
According to witnesses, the school bus that ran over Indrajit had barely slowed down when the helper, who was seated in the cabin, allegedly made him get off the vehicle.
“The boy hadn’t alighted when the bus started gathering speed. He fell down and was run over. We screamed at the driver but he did not stop…. He tried to flee,” said Ramesh Das, a rickshaw-puller who carried Indrajit to the nearby hospital.
“We have detained the driver and started a manhunt for the helper,” said a senior officer at Bidhannagar South police station.
Principal Singh said: “The helper should be standing on footboard or on the road till a student gets off safely. I had questioned the bus operator regarding the same but he could not give me a proper reply.”
Metro tried contacting the bus operator, Jyoti Ganguly, but he did not take the calls.
Classes at Assembly of God Church School had given over an hour earlier than scheduled on Friday because of exams on Monday. Indrajit’s class teacher Sudeshna Sinha said she had spoken to him in the morning about his preparations for the test.
“I remember him playing the tabla at our Rabindra Jayanti function in May. He was in the Green House but students from the other houses would request him to play the tabla for them. He was a very quiet boy, above average in academics,” Sinha said.