A day after a luxury bus collided with a stationary diesel tanker, killing eight and injuring 14 persons, on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, the police arrested the driver and cleaner of the tanker. The police are verifying whether the accused had installed a reflector tape on the rear of the tanker and if they had left the tail lights on to warn approaching vehicles.
The tanker, which had left from the Wadala depot of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), was on its way to Hazira in Gujarat, while the bus, owned by Prasanna Purple Travels, had 20 passengers and was headed for Ahmedabad from Wakad in Pune. The bus erupted in flames after colliding with the tanker, the police said. The driver of the bus and his assistant were among those killed. A Hyundai Verna on its way to Boisar also rammed into the bus, injuring three passengers, the police said.
The tanker driver, Shafiq Siddiqui (22), and cleaner Nizam Ahmed Shah (20), had fled after the incident.
“BPCL tankers normally travel to Hazira together. After the accident, the two escaped with their colleagues, after informing their seniors about the mishap,” said assistant inspector Meghana Burande of Manor police station.
Siddiqui allegedly confessed that he had crashed into a vehicle that was attempting to overtake another. “He said the vehicle ahead of him braked suddenly and the tanker rammed into it. Due to the impact, Siddiqui’s steering system stopped working and he could not manoeuvre the vehicle out of the first lane. He went to a petrol pump nearby to fetch a crane, leaving Shah to signal incoming traffic to steer clear,” said Prashant Mohite, Superintendent of Police, (Highway Traffic), Thane Region.
He added that it would be difficult to verify Siddiqui’s claims given the extent of damage to the tanker. “We have found that his licence is in place and that he also acquired training in transporting flammable material. The RTO will have to establish whether his steering jammed after the initial collision,” said Mohite.