The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Space jam kills pedestrian
- Daughter pushed off pavement by hawkers, run over

She had decided not to marry so that she could look after her parents all her life. Calcutta's crowded pavements and killer roads had other plans for her.

On Friday evening, Sangeeta Kundu, 35, was taking her mother to a doctor when she was forced to step off the hawker-filled Hatibagan pavement and on to the chaotic road.

The next moment, she was run over by a speeding Trekker.

It was at Sangeeta's instance that mother Sabita Kundu, 63, had agreed to go to a cardiologist for a long-overdue check-up on Friday.

Her 70-year-old father, Rabindranath Kundu, who owns a watch shop, decided to accompany them.

Around 5 pm, the trio was walking along Grey Street's crowded footpath, when some hawkers shouted at them for taking up so much of the footpath and disrupting their sales.

The three were then forced to step on to the road. 'The Kundus were walking slowly along the footpath, but on the road, when disaster struck,' said witness Pulin Deb, a shop-owner.

An empty Trekker speeding towards Shyambazar suddenly slammed into Sangeeta, from behind. 'She fell to the ground and her head was smashed by the impact against the vehicle,' added Deb.

Sangeeta was taken to a nearby hospital where she was declared 'brought dead'. The driver jumped signals and sped away, while residents of the area and bystanders were left stunned by the tragedy.

Sergeants of the Shyambazar traffic guard later managed to track down the vehicle and arrest the driver on Tala bridge.

Sangeeta's mother lost consciousness and local youths led her father away from the accident site.

As news spread, hundreds of people gathered in the area to protest the accident.

'The hawkers have become a nuisance. It is time the authorities did something about this,' said one of the protesters, while another argued that the government had evicted them once but not bothered to follow it up.

'You need some level of commitment, which our babus at Writers' Buildings do not have at all,' cried Swapan Bagchi, a tea-stall vendor.

Officials from Burtolla police station, investigating the case, escorted Sangeeta's father to the police station, where he was told that doctors were trying to save his daughter.

'Jhunu (Sangeeta) cannot die like this. I am sure she will be all right. She is all we have,' Rabindranath kept on saying.

While officers tried to pacify him, Sabita was escorted to Radha Madhav Goswami Lane, to the home where she and her husband must now learn to live alone.

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