Bokaro, Aug. 3: At least four kanwariyas were killed and eight more suffered severe burns as the Chas-based victims, sitting on the roof of a bus, came into contact with a high-tension wire of 11,000KVA at Belhur, Bihar, around 8.30am today, a day before the last holy Monday of Shravan.
The victims were part of 700 dak bam kanwariyas who had left Chas last evening by 18 buses and around two dozen SUVs, their pilgrimage flagged off by JMM chief Shibu Soren around 7.30pm. The vehicles were bound for Sultanganj in Bihar, from where pilgrims normally fill pots with Gangajal and then run 100km to Babadham in Deoghar.
Vehicles packed, many kanwariyas were seen clambering on the roofs of buses last evening itself in Chas, holding bamboo sticks to ward off high-tension wires. Missing one wire was enough for electrocution, as the victims found out.
The four persons who died on the spot were identified as Manoj Kumar Singh, Naresh Singh, Krishna Singh and Virendra Kumar from Amdiha village, Chas. Those injured are Chotu Kumar, Nibandha, Bantu Ghatwar, Rupam Kumar, Abhishek Kumar, Subhash Das, Pradip Kumar and Rocky.
Initially rushed to government hospitals in Banka, Bihar, and Deoghar, the injured were being brought to Bokaro General Hospital late this evening as it is considered the best in the area to treat burns.
A Hindi daily reporter, Manik Chand, inside in the ill-fated bus named Maa Bhavani, told The Telegraph that the mishap happened after they had journeyed for 13 hours. “We were 45 minutes from Sultanganj when the bus thudded to a halt and I saw smoke and heard cries,” he said. “I was sitting inside but I also suffered head injuries,” he added.
He added that it was an improvised double-decker bus, where a second floor was added for sleeping arrangements. All those killed and injured were on the roof. “The driver and cleaner fled,” he said.
In Chas, gloom and outrage spread as people heard about the mishap. Some elders of village Amdiha alleged that no proper arrangement was made, which is why many youths sat on the roofs of vehicles.
“Chief minister Hemant Soren is the main patron of this group. But still, arrangements were poor. We lost four of our sons,” said a village elder.
The bereaved could only mourn. “I can’t believe my 23-year-old brother Naresh is no more. He was training as a paramedic in Bokaro and our mother had asked him not to go to Deoghar in view of his classes,” Chas resident Ramesh Singh said, holding his uncontrollably sobbing mother.
JMM chief Shibu Soren called a condolence meeting at his Bokaro residence this evening where he promised all possible help.
Bokaro SP Jitendra Singh said they repeatedly tell people not to sit on the roofs of buses.