| Members of the troupe at the site of the accident. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Oct. 13: Two persons were killed and six others, including three women, injured when the truck they were travelling in turned turtle and fell into a roadside ditch on National Highway 34 today.
The vehicle, which overturned near Jadupur village in Englishbazar police station around 1pm, was carrying a jatra troupe.
The injured have been admitted to the Malda district hospital. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested.
The 37-member opera team included 10 women and two children. All of them sustained injuries. The condition of one of the actors, Samiran Das, is stated to be critical.
According to police, the group had been performing at Birnagore village in Baisnavnagore police station area. They were on their way to Raiganj in North Dinajpur for a show.
Twenty-five-year old Pintu, the son of the proprietor of the group Himangshu Ghosh, and Loknath Sarkar, 60, died on the spot.
All members of Maa Durga Opera hail from Raghunathganj in Murshidabad district.
Pintu's mother, who was also in the truck, sustained a major injury.
Till late this evening she had not been told about her son's death though she was enquiring about him.
'All of us had been sleeping in the truck when we felt the vehicle lurch forward. Before we could realise anything, we found ourselves on a marshy plot of land,' said Aparna Ghosh.
Two other actors ' Dola Basu and Soma Ghosh' said that they were too tired after performing for four consecutive nights.
'So we were all groggy with sleep. May be if we had been awake, we might have seen what was coming and 'I don't know. But it will be difficult to forget what happened today,' said Basu.
'When the truck lost control, the huge trunks we were carrying started falling on us. Both Pintu and Sarkar died after the trunks fell on them. There was not much water in the ditch,' said Ghosh.
According to troupe members, an accident in the midst of the festive season is a serious blow to business. 'We had been booked for shows in almost all the districts this month. The earning of this season mainly provides us our bread for the whole year. We don't know what will happen to us now,' said Ghosh.
According to eyewitnesses, the truck was travelling on a breakneck speed.
The local people came to the rescue before the police and the fire brigade could arrive.
Traffic movement on the highway remained suspended for nearly an hour.