Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

6 schoolchil­dren dead in Haryana bus crash

Drunk driver arrested, bus did not have a fitness certificat­e; school principal, secretary also in police net

- Sunil Rahar letters@hindustant­imes.com

ROHTAK: Six schoolchil­dren were killed and 19 injured on Thursday morning in Mahenderga­rh district in Haryana after a speeding private school bus driven by a drunk man barrelled off the road, rammed into a tree and overturned, said police officers — an incident that left a string of unanswered questions in its wake, including why the institutio­n called students in on Eid, a gazetted holiday.

The driver, Dharmender (who goes by one name), was arrested from the spot, and the principal of GL Public School in Kanina village, Deepti Rao, and school secretary Hoshiyar Singh were held later in the day, said senior police officers.

The bus was carrying 37 students aged between 10 and 18, and did not have a helper on board. Officials said 12 children were being treated in a hospital in Rewari, three at another private hospital in Rewari and four in Gurugram. The other 12 were discharged. The victims — five boys and a girl — were identified as Satyam (16), Yuvraj (14), brothers Yashu (15) and Anshu (13), all of whom live in Jharli village; and Vansh (14) and Rinki (15), both from Dhanonda village.

President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini were among a string of senior political leaders who condoled the accident.

A preliminar­y investigat­ion found that the 52-seater bus did not have either a fitness certificat­e or a mandatory high-security registrati­on plate, said officers involved in the probe, also adding that the vehicle had been fined for these lapses in March 2023. Dharmender was the usual driver for the bus.

The incident occurred in Unhani village, around 8.45am on Thursday, roughly an hour and 15 minutes after the bus set off from Sehlang village around 15km away.

The bus was headed to Kanina and had picked up 37 students along the way by the time it reached Unhani around 2.5km away from the school.

According to survivors and police officers, as it approached a gentle right turn near a Hafed godown, metres before a culvert, the bus, which according to students was travelling at 120km/ hour, skidded off the narrow road, rammed into a tree on the opposite side and flipped over.

Mahenderga­rh superinten­dent of police (SP) Arsh Verma said the driver was speeding. Kanina DSP Mahender Singh said the medical report confirmed that driver was drunk.

“The injured children had said that the driver was under the influence of alcohol when the mishap took place,” Verma said.

Haryana transport minister Aseem Goel said “the negligence of the school is clear in this case”. “All vehicles in the state will be made to undergo fitness tests,” he said. The Haryana government also suspended the Narnaul regional transport authority’s assistant secretary Pardeep Kumar.

Police officers who asked not to be named quoted students as saying that the driver jumped out of the window the moment he realised he had lost control of the vehicle.

The injured students told HT that they called the school principal about 50 minutes before the accident and complained that the driver was drunk.

 ?? PTI ?? The damaged school bus in Mahenderga­rh on Thursday.
PTI The damaged school bus in Mahenderga­rh on Thursday.

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