Two school-going girls were killed and one more was seriously injured on Friday afternoon in Murshidabad’s Ahiran village when a north Bengal-bound truck mowed them down from behind while they were walking with their bicycles along the left flank of NH12.
Dipika Mondal, 15, and Bani Mondal, 15, were reportedly killed on the spot whereas Arati Mondal, 15, was rushed by bystanders to Jangipur sub-divisional hospital and remains admitted to the Murshidabad Medical College where she is critical.
All three lived in Sarala Kishorepur village in Suti block and were Class X students at the Ahiran Girl’s High School. On Friday morning, they had gone to Krishakbazar distribution centre in Ajgarpara, run by block officials, to pick up new bicycles distributed to girl students under the chief minister’s Sabuj Sathi scheme.
Since the new cycles did not come with inflated tyres, the girls had to walk them home. As the girls were walking along the highway, a speeding truck rammed into them from behind around 2pm. Police arrested the driver and his helper and seized the vehicle.
Residents blocked the highway and demanded why minors were allowed to receive half-ready cycles and leave unescorted.
Jangipur SP P.V.B. Satish and Suti 1 BDO Riyazul Haque had to face villagers’ wrath.
“How can young girls be expected to walk safely with these cycles for around 2km along a highway,” a parent asked the police chief and the BDO.
Villager Arjun Ghosh told The Telegraph: “How can the state government expect small girls to travel 2km to collect bicycles and then return home on their own? The administration should shoulder the responsibility of these deaths. If these students had been escorted by teachers or any government official today (Friday), the loss of young lives could have been avoided,” Ghosh said.
SP Satish told this newspaper that they would look into the incident.
“We will carry out an investigation and talk to the administrators concerned,” he said.