The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Friends crushed in fun ride to Lake

Calcutta, April 28: A teenager, who had sneaked out of home with his dad’s scooter and jumped a traffic light, and his friend were crushed under a matador van at the Park Circus crossing this morning.

Neither Sadiqueen Khan, 18, nor Mohammed Junaid, 16, were wearing helmets when they were heading to the Lake for swimming classes.

The boys, who lived next to each other near Calcutta National Medical College and went to the same school, had been promoted to Class X yesterday.

Sadiqueen & Junaid (from family albums)

“The matador carrying white soap powder was heading towards the Park Circus Connector from Park Street. When the lights turned green, the driver surged forward. But the boys had ignored the red light at their end and came in front of the van,” said Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner of police, traffic.

The van driver slammed the brakes on seeing the boys, but the vehicle overturned on the two-wheeler. “Sadiqueen was riding the scooter. His skull was crushed,” said a Beniapukur police officer.

The driver was not at fault, he added. “The boys missed the traffic light while taking a turn.”

But the deaths triggered a mob fury in which the Tata 407, which killed them, was set on fire and police were attacked. The accident occurred around 5.45 am, but the battle continued past seven.

It took two deputy commissioners of police and a large force from Lalbazar to persuade the people to lift a roadblock.

Witnesses alleged that Junaid could have survived had the police been more prompt in taking him to National Medical College, a barely five-minute drive.

“Every morning, the police collect bribes from drivers and it was no exception today,” said Md Tarek, who runs an autorickshaw on the Gariahat-Park Circus route. “The van began speeding even as the signal turned green to avoid the police.”

The bribe charge would be probed, said Shamim. “The van driver claimed that there was nothing like that but we would still look into it.”

Sadiqueen’s father Mohammad Mobin Khan said he had kept the scooter keys in his trouser pocket. “How come I couldn’t make out when he tiptoed out'” wondered the civil contractor.

The boys went for swimming four days a week and never without an escort.

“My father would be furious if he ever saw him on the scooter. And if he did ride ever, it was never outside the mohollah,” said Sadiqueen’s brother Shahnawaz.

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