| Feroze Ahmed and Yasmeen with their children at Afrin’s (centre) sixth birthday celebrations a few days ago
Calcutta, July 2: Not giving a hoot who or what came in their way, two bus drivers raced at the speed of death this morning, but it was young Feroze Ahmed and Yasmeen who lost their lives in the crush at Park Circus.
Like every other day, the happily married twosome had been on their way home after dropping off six-year-old daughter Afrin at Loreto Convent. As they got moving after the traffic lights flashed green at the Darga Road-New Park Street-Biresh Guha Street crossing, a killer bus — in a frenzy to overtake another and snatch passengers — rammed into their motorcycle.
Feroze, 30, was dragged a full 50 yards under the speeding bus — moving west to east on New Park Street — and instantly crushed to death. Yasmeen, 26, was thrown off the two-wheeler to a spot almost 10 ft from the accident site. Bystanders immediately rushed her to the nearby National Medical College and Hospital, but she did not survive.
Within minutes of the 8.30 crash, the area near the No. 4 bridge took on the look of a battlefield. A mob of nearly 1,000 people, furious at the sight of the limp bodies lying on the road, gathered at the site, screaming and shouting at the drivers, and even crying for their blood.
A while later, the mob turned their fury on the killer buses (nos. 24/1/A and 204 A) and set them on fire. A private bus parked nearby was also set ablaze. Four more buses were stopped and ransacked. Traffic was thrown out of gear in the area for nearly three hours.
But as Park Circus convulsed, the city’s lawkeepers were nowhere to be seen. Officers from Karaya police station landed almost an hour later, after thick fumes from the burning buses began to billow skywards. The mob, furious at their late entry, began pelting them with stones.
“Instead of trying to control the situation, the police started beating up innocent people,” a local, Maqbool Hussain, said.
No officers from Tangra police station, a stone’s throw away, turned up on time either. They showed up much later, after the situation had spun out of control.
The police burst 30 rounds of tear gas and wielded lathis to control the mob. Rapid Action Force personnel had to be called in. Two fire tenders were sent for to douse the flames. Twelve persons were injured.
Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Sanjay Mukherjee said a third private bus had also been in the race, but had sped away. “We are yet to confirm which route it plied on.”
Karaya police officers said the drivers and conductors of the buses had escaped. “A search is on,” one said. Seventeen persons have been held for rioting and inciting violence.
A witness said the accident was so bad that no one expected Yasmeen to survive. “We could make out from her injuries that she would not live,” said Sajjad Mia, an elderly man.
Afrin and her two-year-old sister Ayesha, who are with their grandmother at their Miyajaan Ostagar Lane home, have not been told of the deaths. “We have not told the girls…. But we have to tell them about it, maybe tomorrow,” said Abdul Karim, Yasmeen’s father.