Calcutta, Oct. 25: A deranged man got on a bus parked near Sealdah station this evening, started the vehicle and drove wildly in the congested area for a few minutes, crushing a man to death and coming to a halt after hitting a lamppost.
Three others were injured, two of them critically, and had to be hospitalised.
A CSTC bus on route 35B was parked in front of the Sealdah court, about 100 yards from the station.
Around 5.30, the 40-year-old man, later identified as Bansi Lal, and described by police as being “mentally deranged” and a “vagabond”, hopped on to the empty bus unnoticed and sat next to the driver’s seat, scanning the area around him.
A few minutes later, a lady, Shampa Sarkar, got on the bus, and presuming Lal was either the helper or the driver, asked if it would start soon.
Sarkar told the police Lal seemed a little startled at first, but turned around in a while and said: “Zaroor. Main driver hoon. Main abhi le chalta hoon. (Certainly, I’m the driver. I’ll take you right away.)”
Saying this, Lal jumped into the driver’s seat.
Sensing something odd in the “driver’s” behaviour and a little frightened, Sarkar quickly got off the bus. Seconds later, she saw the vehicle jerk to life and run berserk on the road. “My sixth sense saved me,” Sarkar later said.
For the next couple of minutes, as people yelled in fright and others shouted at Lal to stop, the bus surged ahead hitting autorickshaws along the way as passers-by and commuters ran helter-skelter.
Swinging wildly in its run to the station, the bus crushed Arun Saha under its rear wheels, hit three others and then rammed into a lamppost, coming to a halt.
People rushed into the bus, dragged Lal out and started beating him up before the police arrived and rescued him.
Although the police described him as deranged and a vagabond, it’s a mystery how such a person could start a bus, shift gears and drive some distance.
CSTC officials said the bus has to be started by pressing a button and then holding together two loose wires, which presumably work as the ignition. This is a process far too complicated for a deranged person.
The police, however, brought the charge of negligence against the driver, alleging that he had left the engine running, and arrested him as well as Lal.
Sitting at the police station with a plaster on his forehead, Lal mumbled that he could only ride a bicycle and slept wherever he could. “I don’t know how I got to drive the bus,” he told The Telegraph.