Calcutta, June 27: A Calcuttan who stopped his car to pick up a child he had accidentally hit was subjected to so relentless an assault while driving the boy to hospital that, he said, he had to make a U-turn and seek shelter inside a police station to save himself.
The four-year-old boy was declared brought dead when he was taken to hospital by the police.
Sujit Bhattacharya, a Bhowanipore resident at the wheel, was arrested, ensuring he was "rescued" from mob fury that provided an insight into why the impulse to speed away overtakes the obligation to help in a country notorious for hit-and-run cases.
The 45-year-old Bhattacharya, charged with rash driving (IPC Section 279) and causing death due to negligence (Section 304A), got bail from a city court today. If proved guilty, he can be jailed for up to two years.
Bhattacharya, his wife and two children aged 12 and 10 were returning home last night after buying biryani for dinner when their grey Maruti Zen hit the chid near Kalighat.
"A couple were walking by the side of the road carrying a toddler. A little boy was walking next to the woman. He was not holding any of the parent's hands. The boy suddenly came right in front of my car. It was so sudden there was no time to brake," Bhattacharya told The Telegraph after getting bail.
The police identified the child as Rabi Sikdar, a resident of Tollygunge Road, who was returning home with his family from a Rath Yatra fair in Chetla.
As he saw the boy fall, Bhattacharya told his wife and son and daughter to step out of the car to make room for the injured child, a gesture some police officials said was "rare these days".
Once inside the car, as the boy slumped, his relatives turned on Bhattacharya. "They beat me constantly from the back seat. The man was making calls alerting people that his son was dead and asking them to come," Bhattacharya said.
"All this while, he kept on insisting ' seedhe, seedhe', meaning he wanted me to go straight and not the hospital. I realised his intention and decided to go to Tollygunge police station instead. When they realised I was heading towards the police station, the beating intensified," Bhattacharya said.
At the police station, Bhattacharya was arrested. "Our hands are tied. If a person dies after being hit by your car, even if it is not your fault, the initial onus will fall on you," said an officer at Lalbazar.
The officer explained that in an accident where the victim survives, the vehicle has to undergo a mechanical test and a motor collision report is prepared before concluding if any action would be initiated against the driver. But if the victim dies, the first step is to arrest the driver.