By Kartik Kumar
A massive collision between a luxury bus and a car near Sector 45 killed three students and an NRI couple and injured at least 15 in the early hours of Saturday. So fierce was the impact that eyewitnesses said that the car was hurled several feet into the air before it caught fire, while the bus turned turtle.
All three occupants of the car, students of the Chandigarh Group of Colleges (CGC) in Landran, near Mohali, were charred to death while the NRI couple were crushed when the bus turned over. Their nine-year-old daughter is critically injured and is admitted in hospital. Among those injured is a Taiwanese national.
The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus was on its way to Delhi from Dharamshala when at 2:10 am, a Swift car going towards Mohali from Chandigarh rammed into it at the Sector 45/46/49/50 light point, minutes after the bus had made a scheduled stop at ISBT-43. Both vehicles are believed to have been travelling at high speed. Police have booked the bus driver for rash driving and death by negligence.
The victims in the car have been identified as Gaurav Garg (24), Balroop Singh Bhogal (22) — both residents of Shimla — and Dipanshu (23), a resident of Rewari in Haryana. While Gaurav and Dipanshu were final year MBA students staying in a college hostel, Balroop was a third-year B Tech student and was staying in a rented accommodation at Landran. Their bodies were taken to GMSH-16 mortuary, where their families arrived on Saturday.
The NRI couple have been identified as Rupesh Nawarkhele (38), and Kavita Nawarkhele (37), residents of Southampton in England, who had gone to Dharamshala to meet Rupesh’s brother and were headed to meet another relative in Delhi.
“There was a CRPF outpost near the accident site and all our officials rushed to help the injured bus passengers when the collision took place. The fire brigade and local police were called and the occupants of the car were taken out after a half an hour rescue operation,” said Parvesh Kumar, a CRPF official.
The injured were rushed to GMCH-32. “Around 15 injured people were brought to GMCH-32 at around 3 am. All of them were given first aid treatment. Those whose condition was critical were admitted and the rest were discharged,” said Dr A K Janmeja, medical superintendent, GMCH-32. The injured include Dhiraj, Nargu, Richa, Rishi, Ashish, Amit, Ananya, Gaurav, Cheen (Taiwanese), Allen, Punit Parmar, Meera, Surinder, Deepali, and Pradeep. “Deepali has suffered a brain haemorrhage and her condition is critical. Her mother, Meera Kanwar (56) has suffered a cervical injury and is also admitted at the emergency. The other three, including Rishi, the 37-year-old bus-conductor, Surinder Singh, the bus-driver and another passenger Dheeraj were discharged in the evening,” Janmeja added.
“A case of rash driving, causing death by negligence and causing hurt by endangering life or personal safety of others has been registered against the bus driver Surinder Singh, a resident of New Delhi,” said Inspector Rajesh Shukla, SHO police station, Sector 34.
Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister G S Bali announced interim relief of Rs 25,000 each for all the passengers of the bus. Sources also said that HRTC has procured video footage of the accident, captured by a CCTV camera, and will scrutinise it to check which of the vehicles were at fault. Chandigarh DC Mohammad Shayin also visited the accident site and expressed condolences to all those affected on his Facebook page. He also called it a “case of rash driving”.
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on the campus of CGC, Landran, where three of the victims studied. Friends of the victims rushed to GMSH-16 and remained inconsolable.