Three persons were killed on the spot and three others critically injured when a sand-laden lorry spun out of control and mounted a pavement on R.G. Kar Hospital Road, in north Calcutta, on Tuesday morning. Later in the day, the police blamed the rising accident toll on the “condition of roads”.
Witnesses said the lorry had just turned right from Raja Dinendra Street and was moving towards R.G. Kar Hospital. Suddenly, it swerved left, climbed the pavement and crashed into a row of crowded shops. The victims were identified as Sibendra Prasad Thakur, 52, a constable of West Port police station, Gobinda Roy, 22, an ambulance driver, and Shanti, 50, a flower-seller. The constable and the driver were buying flowers from Shanti when the lorry hit them.
Shanti, a widow, was the mother of two sons and a daughter. She would come to R.G. Kar Hospital Road from Badu, in North 24-Parganas, to sell flowers. Thakur lived in the police quarters on Raja Dinendra Street with two sons and a daughter. His wife and youngest son live in Bihar. Gobinda, an orphan, had been driving the Belgachhia Friends’ Union ambulance for two years.
The injured were taken to R.G. Kar Hospital. Two were discharged after treatment. The other, with a head injury, was shifted to SSKM Hospital. Rush-hour traffic was disrupted for over an hour as residents took to the streets in protest.
Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Sivaji Ghosh has asked deputy commissioner (traffic) M.K. Singh to conduct an inquiry into allegations that the driver of the lorry had stepped on the pedal after being chased by some constables demanding a bribe. Singh, however, blamed the recent spurt in mishaps on “poor road conditions”.
Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, too, said he had repeatedly drawn the attention of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), the PWD and the CMC to some roads in serious disrepair. “There are huge potholes on some of the thoroughfares, which can so easily cause an accident,’’ he added. The police have put R.G. Kar Hospital Road, parts of APC Road and AJC Bose Road, New Park Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road, College Street, Hyde Road, Taratala Road, Majerhat bridge, the Gariahat crossing, Rabindra Sarani, Elgin Road and Sarat Bose Road on the ‘must-be-repaired-immediately’ list.