Three persons were killed and five others were injured when a speeding truck carrying cattle rammed into six parked auto-rickshaws while trying to avoid hitting another three-wheeler early on Sunday.
The accident, which took place at Nirsa Chowk on NH-2, about 35km from the district headquarters, around 4.30am, triggered a massive agitation that disrupted traffic for more than seven hours.
Those who died were from Nirsa. While two were auto drivers Chandan Mali of Vidyasagar Colony and Dinesh Raut of Gopinathpur the third was a woman passenger, Chapla Das of Pithiakiyari.
Of the five injured, three Shyam Lal Munda, Mangli Ravidas and Sujit Chauhan have been admitted to PMCH. Ajij Khan and Upnesh Kumar were released from primary health centre of Nirsa after first aid.
According to eyewitnesses, though the truck was coming from Dhanbad in great speed, the accident occurred because of an auto that was trying to compete with other three-wheelers to get passengers. As the truck came down the road, an empty auto, that was trying to overtake others to pick up passengers first, suddenly came in front of the heavy vehicle. The truck driver took a sharp turn to avoid collision with the auto but ended up hitting other three-wheelers that were parked, said a passer-by.
The driver of the truck fled. The vehicle was later found abandoned around 2km from the accident site.
More than 200 residents of Nirsa along and auto drivers descended on the highway around 5am and staged a blockade at Nirsa Chowk. Till then, it was known that only two persons Chandan and Chapla had died. The agitation was lifted around 9.15am after police promised to pay Rs 10,000 for cremation of the two.
Soon thereafter, news came in that Dinesh, who was admitted to PMCH, also died, prompting his relatives to sit on a dharna on the highway, about one kilometre from the accident site, once again throwing traffic out of gear. This blockade was lifted around 12.10pm.
with the district administration assuring the protesters that house facility under Indira Awas Yojana would be provided to all three victims families after scrutinising their eligibility.
Nirsa MLA Arup Chatterjee, former MLA and former water resources minister Aparna Sen Gupta, district board member Mannu Tiwari and Ajsu leader Kanhai Das acted as mediators in the talks between police represented by Nirsa inspector Raj Kapur and officer in charge Vinod Kumar and the protesters.
The protesters were demanding compensation. We could resolve the stalemate only after seven hours. Normal traffic has been restored on the highway, said Nirsa DSP Ezra Bodra.