Schoolgirl run over in safety week

Rash of road accidents makes mockery of govt's Safe Drive Save Life campaign

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.01.18

Garden Reach: A 15-year-old schoolgirl was on Saturday run over by a trailer taking an illegal U-turn on a stretch of road in the port area where traffic volume is high, compliance low and policing allegedly lax.

Asmina Parveen, a student of Class IX, was walking down Nimak Mahal Road on her way to Arya Parishad School when the trailer coming from the opposite side suddenly took the illegal turn and knocked her down.

Witnesses said one of the rear wheels of the trailer went over Asmina's head after she fell on the road. She was declared dead on arrival at SSKM Hospital, another statistic in a growing list of road tragedies since the start of the government's Safe Drive Save Life campaign in 2016.

Asmina's father Md Nizam died some years ago and she lived with her mother in Sick Lane, not far from where she was run over. "She was a smart girl who wished to continue her studies despite financial hardship," a relative of the family said.

News of the teenager's death triggered the usual outpouring of anger on the streets. The driver of the trailer had fled by then, so the protesters shattered the windshield of the trailer and blocked Circular Garden Reach Road and Nimak Mahal Road.

The blockade, which started around 11am, stalled traffic till Taratala Road until a police contingent arrived and persuaded the protesters to clear the road. Syed Waquar Raza, the deputy commissioner of the police's port division, promised "prompt action" against truckers guilty of rash driving.

An officer at North Port police station said the absconding driver, Dharmender Paswan, was traced and arrested within hours of Asmina's death. "We have started a case of rash and negligent driving along with attempt to murder."

Nimak Mahal Road starts opposite the ITC Factory in Garden Reach and spans gate numbers 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Calcutta Port Trust. This stretch is among the busiest traffic corridors in the port area but lacks proper footpaths, forcing pedestrians to walk down the road at risk to life and limb.

"There is little or no policing on Nimak Mahal Road, CGR Road and Satya Doctor Road. Some of the traffic signals do not work either," said a resident of the area.

The danger of being knocked down by a truck or a trailer increases at night, when police deployment is withdrawn.

Nimak Mahal Road and Circular Garden Reach Road are marked as "accident zones" on Lalbazar's traffic map. The previous fatal accident in that area was in October 2017, when 21-year-old Syed Lashkar was hit by a truck. The victim was on a motorcycle and wearing a helmet.