A 21-year-old college student was run over by a truck on NH-33 in Hazaribagh on Monday morning, triggering violent protests that resulted in a four-hour bottleneck on the Ranchi-Patna highway and left some four dozen vehicles with damaged windscreens.
Anushka Singh, a resident of West Bokaro in neighbouring Ramgarh district and a third-year arts student of KB Women’s College in Hazaribagh, had come to town with her father Umesh Singh to deposit her brother’s fee at a local school. They were returning home, 38km away, when the accident took place.
According to eyewitnesses, Anushka was riding pillion on her father’s bike. “Around 10am, when they had just reached College More on NH-33, the man suddenly lost control of the two-wheeler and his daughter fell off her seat. A truck coming from the opposite direction crushed her to death on the spot. The driver was caught,” a witness said, but added that the heavy vehicle wasn’t exactly at fault and it was an unfortunate mishap.
Contrary to what eyewitnesses said, police maintained that the truck had hit the two-wheeler and knocked off the father-daughter duo, while Singh himself admitted that something had come under the wheels of his bike, which made him lose balance.
Whatever may have led to the accident, 300-odd students of St Columba’s College, which is located nearby, trooped to the highway in protest. They smashed windscreens of every passing vehicle, demanding action against the truck driver who was held hostage and compensation for the kin of the deceased.
It took four hours to quell the student agitation. A team from Hazaribagh Sadar police station, led by its officer in charge Dinesh Kumar, managed to disperse the rampaging mob around 2pm with the assurances of adequate compensation and action against the truck driver.
“We have arrested the trucker and lodged a case of rash driving against him,” the officer said, adding that his sources confirmed that the truck was at fault.
The Ranchi-Patna stretch of NH-33 via Hazaribagh has claimed lives before.
On July 4, a 24-year-old student from Dhanbad, pursuing an MCA degree at Vinoba Bhave University, was crushed under the wheels of a truck at District More.
Rinki Kumari was riding pillion on friend Neelu Kumari’s two-wheeler. Both were returning from the university, 4km from District More, when the accident took place. Neelu had a miraculous escape.