Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Hours before deadly crash, parents tried to take keys from ‘drunk’ driver

Distraught parents blame school management for the mishap

- Sunil Rahar Sunil.kumar3@htlive.com

A state of gloom engulfed Jhaadhli and Dhanaunda hamlets in Haryana’s Mahenderga­rh district as six children, all students of primary and secondary classes of a private school, were killed after their school bus, allegedly being driven rashly by a drunk driver, crashed into a tree and overturned on Thursday morning.

What was more heartwrenc­hing for the grief-stricken families was the fact that some parents of school children at Kheri village had snatched the key from the bus driver in the morning and informed school principal about the drunk driver.

“However, the principal told the parents to give back the key to the bus driver as the children are getting late. She assured the parents that a new bus driver will come from tomorrow. We had complained about the driver to school authoritie­s several times but they failed to change him,” Sanjay Kumar, a farmer from Jhaadhli village, said.

Kumar said he was working in his field when he received a phone call from a known person that the bus of GL Public school had met with an accident.

“I have lost my son Yuvraj, a class 9 student, in this mishap. His mother had prepared breakfast for him before coming to the fields. We were happy when he was promoted to class 9th with flying marks. My younger son did not go school today and instead followed us to the fields,” an inconsolab­le Kumar said.

Signs of lives cut short, dreams shattered strewed the accident site, near Unhani village in Kanina, with school bags, shoes, water bottles and study material spread across the road. Some students lay motionless in a pool of blood and others, writhing in pain, cried for help around 8.30 am.

Hearing the cries of the children, some passersby rushed to help, pulling out children from the severely damaged bus and rushed them to the nearest hospital. A doctor at the hospital told reporters that of the 20 injured children brought to the hospital, “four students were brought dead and one, who was put on ventilator support, succumbed to his injuries”.

The incident occurred when the bus with 37 children on board was on its way to the GL Public School. The driver, identified as Dharmender, was allegedly driving rashly and lost control of the bus, which overturned after ramming into a roadside tree, a senior police officer said.

The driver was caught from the accident site and his medical examinatio­n confirmed he was under the influence of alcohol, police said, adding that the school principal, Deepti Rao, and another school official, Hoshiar Singh, were also arrested.

Class 9 student Aditya, from Dhanaunda, who was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Rewari, said the driver was visibly drunk and the bus was being driven at a high speed.

“The bus driver lost control over the vehicle and it rammed into a tree. The students sitting in the front and last rows of the bus received injuries after the glass of the windows broke. The bus driver jumped off the bus when it collided with the tree,” he told reporters.

The families of the deceased children, all residents of Jhaadhli and Dhanaunda, performed their last rites in the evening in the presence of Haryana ministers Seema Trikha, Kamal Gupta and Banwari Lal.

Sandeep Kumar, who lost both his sons in the mishap, blamed the school authoritie­s, bus driver and district administra­tion for the mishap. He questioned the rationale behind the school being open on Eid-al-Fitr, despite being a government holiday. “I have lost everything after the death of both of my sons —Anshu (class 9) and Yashu (class 10) — in this tragic road mishap. The school authoritie­s, bus driver and administra­tion all are responsibl­e for this incident. My life is ruined and I am feeling hollow today. I had dreamt of making them successful, but my dreams are shattered now. Why the school was opened despite a government holiday and what was the government doing” The families who have lost their loved ones know the price of a child,” the grieving father said.

State education minister Seema Trikha, who visited the injured students at hospitals, said a show-cause notice has been issued to the private school to explain why it was open on Thursday despite it being a holiday on account of Eid. Deputy commission­er Monika Gupta said the district education officer has sent a proposal to the state government for cancelling its recognitio­n.

CM, Hooda express shock, grief

Haryana CM Nayab Singh Saini said, “I am saddened by the school bus accident in Kanina, Mahenderga­rh. My sympathies are with the families who have lost their children. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty. We will ensure ex-gratia to the affected families and full treatment of the injured students.”

Former Haryana CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, “It is very unfortunat­e and sad news. I got the informatio­n that the driver was drunk. I can’t understand where the children were going on Eid. It’s a matter of investigat­ion.”

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India