| The potholed stretch of Rashbehari Avenue, off Triangular Park, where mountaineer Anita Sarkar's two-wheeler skidded and she sustained a serious fall. (Below): Anita's motorcycle. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
She has scaled many a height in the Himalayas. Last April, she conquered the 20,300-ft Mount Island peak of Nepal as part of a Bachendri Pal-led all-woman team.
Last week, mountaineer Anita Sarkar was felled by a potholed road in south Calcutta.
Around 10.30 pm on October 9, Mahasashthi, the 40-year-old railway employee was returning to her Behala home on her motorcycle.
On Rashbehari Avenue, near Triangular Park, the front wheel first fell into a pothole and then hit the edge of the concrete bed for tram-track dereservation.
Anita had committed one grave mistake ' she was not wearing a helmet.
As soon as her two-wheeler hit the crater, it overturned and Anita was hurled against the railings of the road-divider. Her unprotected head smashed against the iron bars and her body hit the concrete bed.
Anita lost consciousness instantly and she is now battling for her life. For the past eight days, she has been in a coma at the Peerless Hospital.
'She underwent a major surgery. Besides, internal haemorrhage was detected in her brain. Now, her condition is critical,' said Rupak Barua, vice-president of the hospital.
Immediately after the accident, people from the locality rushed to the spot. They saw Anita lying unconscious on the concrete tracks, with the motorcycle lying at least 15 ft from her.
'We heard about the accident around 11 pm from the police and rushed to the spot. People from the locality had taken Anita to Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan, from where she was shifted to Peerless Hospital,' said Rupa Sarkar, Anita's sister-in-law.
'When we saw her that day, she was unconscious. And till date, she is in the same state,' she added.
The police had got Anita's address from an identity card she was carrying with her.
Officers from Lake police station have kept an eye on the accident and the aftermath. 'We conducted a spot investigation that revealed how Anita's two-wheeler had skidded because of the pothole between the concrete bed of the tram tracks and the road,' said an investigating officer.
'Had she used a helmet, her condition would not have been so serious,' added the officer.
According to Sukumar Chakraborty, officer-in-charge of Lake police station, doctors have told police that 'Anita is in a very critical condition'.
Elaborating, Barua said from the hospital: 'She underwent a surgery in her spinal cord. Besides, doctors have found a blood clot in her brain. We have conducted two CT scans and a little improvement has been noticed. Our doctors are keeping a round-the-clock vigil.'
When an accusing finger was pointed at the poor condition of the Rashbehari Avenue stretch under repair, Uday Shankar Sengupta, Calcutta Municipal Corporation's director-general (civil), said: 'We must do something about this.'