On Wednesday evening, Yashveer Kumar Dahiya, in his mid-30s, was on his way to a welder’s shop in Bijwasan village, when he saw his two nephews playing outside their house. The youths, Pankaj (23) and Sumit Dahiya (19), were mentally challenged.
He thought he would take them along for a ride in a brand new white Hyundai Santro which he had borrowed from a neighbour. What lay in store was a tragedy.
Pankaj and Sumit were charred after the Santro caught fire while on the move. Yashveer, who works as a driver with the Delhi Police, barely managed to escape with burns on his arms and legs.
“The car was bought in April. The three were returning from Bijwasan around 6 pm when the vehicles went up in flames,” a police officer said. “Yashveer tried to open the door but couldn’t because it was jammed. He was already losing consciousness when some youths passing by noticed the car on fire and broke through the window and dragged him out,” he said.
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According to police, by the time Yashveer regained consciousness and remembered his nephews in the rear seat, 10 to 15 seconds had elapsed and the car was engulfed in flames. The youths, who had lost consciousness by then, suffered 100 per cent burns and died on the spot.
“Their father, Sudesh, works for Haryana Police,” one of the youths’ uncles said. “The car had a central-locking system which failed, and the doors got jammed. The manufacturers should take note of this problem. The boys were mentally challenged and must have been horrified when the car started burning. And when the doors got jammed as well, they must have panicked and not known what to do,” the uncle said.
According to Ramesh Kumar Dahiya, one of the victims’ uncles, who works as a constable at the Kapashera police station, he and a few other officers rushed to the spot after being alerted over the phone. “I never imagined that the victims would be my own nephews,” he said.
“Yashveer keeps repeating that it was entirely his fault that the boys died. He feels guilty because he decided to take them out for a ride,” he said. Police said the vehicle was inspected by a forensic team on Thursday.
“We will allow Hyundai to inspect the vehicle, but only after our team conclude their investigation. Or else, the scene might get disturbed,” Suman Goel, DCP (Southwest), said.
A spokesperson for Hyundai Motors India Ltd. said a final report on the incident is awaited. “We are ready to undertake a detailed technical investigation post the approval of authorities and the customer to ascertain the facts,” he said.
“This is an unfortunate incident. Over 25 lakh Hyundai Santros are running on the roads and this is the first time we have heard of something like this. We don’t know what happened. Sometimes, people install accessories after buying a car and this disturbs the wiring. But this will only be clear after the investigation is over,” the spokesperson said.