The Himachal Road Transport Corporation authorities have said that the accident involving their bus and a Maruti Swift car at the Sector 45/46/49/50 intersection, in which two NRIs and three students were killed in the wee hours of Saturday, happened because the car was being driven rashly.
Executive director of HRTC R K Gautam said that they had obtained the CCTV footage of the accident from the nearby CRPF camp and it showed that the bus driver was not at fault.
“It is clear in the footage that the car was being driven in a rash manner. The bus was on a highway and it is the responsibility of drivers coming from other directions to give way to vehicles on the highway,” said Gautam.
“In the CCTV footage, it is clear that the car rammed near the rear tyre of the bus, and the bus driver was not at fault,” Gautam added.
However, the Chandigarh Police, which is investigating the case and has also obtained the CCTV footage, has not yet arrived at a conclusion.
SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said, “It is not clear from the footage who is at fault.” He said that the viscera of the three students was
being sent for a histopathological report.
The three students — Gaurav Garg, Dipanshu Gupta and Balroop Singh Bhogal — were in the car, which caught fire after the accident, jamming the doors. Trapped inside, the three were charred. The car had to be cut open to take out their bodies.
Police sources said that Gaurav Garg, who belonged to Shimla, had got the car as a gift from his parents less than a fortnight ago. Balroop was also from Shimla while Dipanshu was from Rewari in Haryana.
Such was the impact of the collision that the bus flipped over, NRI couple Rupesh Navarkhele and Kavita Navakhele were thrown out, and buried under it. Both died. Their nine-year-old daughter Ananya was seriously injured.
The bus was going from Dharamsala to Delhi while the three students from the Chandigarh Group of Colleges in Landran had left the house of a friend in Mohali, saying they were going to get drinking water.
Bus driver Surinder Singh, who was injured in the accident, was arrested by the police soon after he was discharged from the hospital. He was booked for rash driving, endangering life and causing death due to negligence.
The police produced him in a court which sent him to judicial custody.
While the offences against Surinder are bailable, there was no one to bail him out. SHO of the Sector 34 Police Station Inspector Rajesh Shukla said, “We waited, but no one furnished his bail bond.’’
The HRTC executive director said, “We had no idea that we could bail him out. I will make sure that the needful is done now.”
Ananya is now out of danger, but she is still in the ICU of Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32.
“Ananya was bleeding from her stomach, and had suffered massive blood loss when she was brought here. She had to be given blood and her condition was stabilised. She is able to recognise her relatives and communicated with them,’’ said a doctor.
Vikas Sharma, a relative, said, “Ananya is unaware of her parents’ death. She underwent a surgery and rods have been grafted in her ribs. Doctors said that she will take time to recover.”
Rupesh and Kavita were cremated at the Sector 25 cremation ground.
Kavita’s parents arrived in the morning from Mumbai while Rupesh’s parents are expected to arrive from Jamnagar in Gujarat on Monday.
The family was travelling from Dharamsala to Delhi in the HRTC bus.
As many as 12 of the 15 injured were discharged on Sunday. Besides Ananya, those still in the hospital are Meera Kumar Kanwar, 57, and her daughter Deepali, 27, a JNU student, who suffered head injuries and is serious. The mother-daughter were heading to New Delhi from Dharamsala.