Truck driver burnt to death after crash

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Durgapur
  • Published 21.02.08
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Durgapur, Feb. 20: A mob tied a truck driver to a tree, doused him with kerosene and set him on fire after a 12-year-old boy was run over in Burnpur near Asansol.

When local CPM councillor Deepayan Roy arrived with some supporters, Abodh Kishore Singh was in flames and screaming for help, his feet tied to the tree. The ropes had almost burnt out.

The child was lying on the road. It is difficult to tell whether Bikash Bauri was killed immediately or when the mob was busy dealing with the truck driver.

The CPM supporters doused the flames and took Singh, 45, to a hospital. He died at Belle Vue hospital in Calcutta this evening.

“He (Singh) had sustained almost 80 per cent burns along with cuts and gashes on his head and legs. We referred him to the city when his condition deteriorated,” said the superintendent of the Asansol Subdivisional Hospital.

Around 11am, Singh was driving his empty truck towards the New Town slum area near IISCO steel plant’s slag bank when he lost control while taking a turn. Bikash, on the way to school on a cycle, was hit while crossing the road.

A resident of neighbouring Ashoknagar, Singh tried to flee but the mob stopped the truck opposite Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School, about 100 metres away, where a Madhyamik exam was to begin.

A dozen youths stoned the truck, smashed its windscreen and deflated the tyres. Examinees standing in front of the school ran inside in panic.

The mob grew larger and bayed for the driver’s blood. A section of the crowd decided to set the truck on fire with the driver locked up in his cabin. Then there was a change of mind and some of them dragged Singh out and started beating him.

“We’ll kill the driver. He has killed one of our boys. If we hand him to the police, they’ll let him go for a bribe,” Dhananjay Bauri told the rest.

Singh managed to break free once, but he was caught again and tied to a tree. Some of them brought bottles of kerosene and sprinkled it on his clothes. Then someone threw a lighted matchstick at him.

Hirapur police station is only about 2.5km away but the first team arrived half an hour after Singh was set ablaze. The CPM supporters were about to take him to hospital on their own by that time.

Councillor Roy had come with Singh’s wife Baby, 38, who almost fainted at the sight. “I saw my husband burning and could do nothing. He was begging for help but we were not sure about what to do. His flesh was melting from his arms, chest and legs,” Baby said.

The police took Bikash to hospital, where was declared dead.

Six persons were picked up tonight and a murder case started. Raids were being conducted in the area till late into the night.

An officer said: “The area is crime prone and a haven for iron scrap smugglers.”