Racing buses have claimed four lives in the past two weeks in Calcutta. While all stakeholders in the traffic mess play the blame game or turn a blind eye, three families across the city struggle to pick up the pieces and cope with the tragedy.
Metro visited three homes where the blood hasn’t dried and the tears haven’t stopped flowing.
Like on any given weekday, on August 14, Madhumita and Anutosh Majumdar dropped off their 10-month-old daughter Anwesha at her grandparents’ neighbouring flat in Baguiati and set out for work. On EM Bypass, their motorcycle hit a pothole and lost control. The two were run over by a speeding school bus.
On Monday afternoon, silence enveloped the Baguiati flat of Madhumita’s parents, where little Anwesha now lives. The happy family photographs in the drawing room now tell a tragic tale — Anutosh and Madhumita smiling, Anwesha on Madhumita’s lap with Anutosh looking on...
“Our children were murdered. They kept waving at the driver but the bus did not stop. More lives will be lost if these unions continue to shield the bus drivers,” says Madhumita’s mother Lipika Sengupta.
Prerna, 18, was on her way to school on August 16 when two racing buses zeroed in on her. A bus on route 215A hit her and she fell down. The bus picked up speed and crushed Prerna under its wheels.
Ten days later, Prerna’s father Mahesh Parasrampuria is still silent with grief. On being prodded, he softly says: “It was not an accident but cold-blooded murder. When you see somebody has been hit, you immediately stop. But the bus driver accelerated and murdered her.”
In the compound of their Nimtala Ghat Street home, Prerna’s uncle Rashbehari Parasrampuria is more vocal, blaming the callous system. “The commission system of remuneration suits the drivers, so the unions will never allow the owners to switch to a fixed salary method. If a driver runs over someone, these union members go all out to cover the tracks of these murderers. And the government does nothing.”
On August 22, the bus in which 12-year-old Sudip Kumar Yadav was going to school did not stop at its designated spot near Punjab National Bank (PNB) in Salt Lake. The DN-8 bus was racing another bus on the same route. Trying to get off, Sudip fell and the bus wheels crushed him.
Time at the Yadav home on Ishwar Gupta Road, in the Dum Dum Cantonment area, seems to stand still. “Tell me, after all this, will parents be able to rest in peace after sending their children to school'” demands Sudip’s father Shovi Kumar Yadav. He is inconsolable.
Anguish has given way to anger among the rest of the family. Sandeep Kumar Yadav, Sudip’s cousin, who saw his younger brother being run over, wants those responsible for the murder to be punished. “I kept shouting at the driver to stop the bus but he was too busy dodging another bus. Is there no law under which these culprits can be punished immediately, so that politicians who give them shelter do not get a chance to save them'” cried Sandeep.