The Telegraph
Saturday , March 1 , 2014
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Daughter dodges horror crossing

Reema Halder waited 20 minutes for a “direct” bus to take her home after Friday’s Madhyamik exam, lest she be forced to set foot at the Mahabirtala crossing for connecting transport.

The 17-year-old wrote her history paper on Friday with events of the past few days playing on her mind.

She was returning after the exam on Wednesday when her mother slipped off a bus footboard — as the driver took off before she could get down — and her left leg came under the rear wheels of the 1,200-tonne vehicle at the Mahabirtala crossing.

Madhumita Halder is currently convalescing at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and staring at the prospect of losing her leg.

“My mother and I seldom go out. We aren’t regular bus commuters. That’s why she couldn’t get off (the bus) quickly like the others,” she said in front of a Mudiali school, her board exam venue.

She was determined not to get off at the crossing and find a bus that would take her directly to Siriti. The Halders are from Brickfield Road near the Siriti crematorium, a 15-minute brisk walk from the crossing.

“Only a handful of buses take the road left from the crossing towards our home. Most pass through Mahabirtala towards New Alipore. I had insisted that we board a bus to Mahabirtala last Wednesday so that I could travel with my friends,” said the girl overcome by guilt pangs.

Metro had reported on Friday how the Mahabirtala crossing is one of the most perilous stretches in the city where buses stop at will anywhere on the road, passengers board or get off moving buses and policemen turn a blind eye to all the violations.

Reema, accompanied by aunt Shefali Halder, refused to travel on the bus that her friends took on Friday. She had to wait because only two buses — number 40A and 21 — from Mudiali travel towards Siriti.

“I have not slept properly since the accident… images of my mother soaked in blood haunt me when I close my eyes,” she said.

Shefali said Reema desperately wanted to meet her mother on Thursday but calmed down after talking to her on father Sunil’s cell phone. “Madhumita told her daughter that she was doing fine and the pain had subsided. She persuaded her not to go to the hospital and, instead, concentrate on her studies.”

Madhumita is “clinically stable”, according to doctors at the CMCH on Friday.