Speeding cuffs on Hema's driver

Dead child's kin rue 'VIP culture'

By Rakhee Roy Talukdar in Jaipur
  • Published 4.07.15

Jaipur, July 3: The man driving Hema Malini was today arrested for speeding in connection with last night's highway collision that killed a four-year-old, while the dead girl's family contrasted hospitals' handling of its other members and the MP-actress.

Mahesh Chand Thakur, driver of the Mercedes-Benz which police said belongs to a Vrindavan-based friend of Hema, was doing 140kmph on a stretch of NH11 with a speed limit of 45-50km, police said. He has received bail.

Thakur has been booked for rash driving, causing grievous hurt by an act that endangered others' lives, and causing death by negligence. He can be jailed for up to two years if convicted.

Around 8.50pm at Dausa, 60km from Jaipur, the Merc had collided with an Alto carrying a family of four and a relative.

Shika Khandelwal, in her 30s, lay at Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh Hospital this evening with a broken arm, still unaware that daughter Sonam was dead.

Her son Somil, 6, is in the ICU with fractures on his hands and legs and stitches over his wounds. Her husband Harsh is at the trauma centre with multiple fractures and an injured back, and his relative Seema has broken arm and leg bones.

Harsh said he had been halfway through a right turn towards Lalsot, his hometown where he owns a bicycle shop, when the Merc "came speeding from nowhere".

Hema had a gash above her right eye stitched at Jaipur's Fortis Hospital before undergoing two hours of plastic surgery around the nose for "lacerations". The medical team of specialists treating her said she was doing fine.

Early this evening, Shika's brother Shirish Gupta complained: "Hema Malini's plastic surgery is complete while we are waiting for our CT scans and other tests." The CT scans on Somil and Shika were conducted later in the evening.

"We are bogged down by routine procedures like getting copies xeroxed and are running from one department to the other, which is perhaps not the case with VIP victims," Gupta said.

Sawai Man Singh is a government hospital while Fortis is a private facility. But Gupta slammed "the VIP culture in the country".

"After the accident, Hema Malini was taken away within minutes by the one passer-by doctor while our family members lay on the road for over half an hour," he said.

He added that chief minister Vasundhara Raje had visited the family "and told the staff to take proper care" - which would have been unlikely had the accident not involved a VIP.

The passer-by who drove Hema to Fortis was Shiv Sharma, described as "a private paramedic, probably a physiotherapist" by state director of pubic health B.R. Meena.

It was perhaps the smart thing to choose a victim capable of climbing into a car and sitting upright for a 60km ride, but it's not clear whether Sharma had stopped to make arrangements for the more grievously injured victims to be sent to hospital.

It was the police and local people who took the family to a hospital in Dausa before their relatives arrived and shifted them to Jaipur.

Hema, 66, was in the post-operative ICU this evening. Sources said she might leave for Mumbai later in the night on a chartered flight with daughter Esha Deol and son-in-law Bharat Takhtani, who arrived today.