A SPEEDING car, allegedly being driven by a college student under the influence of liquor, ran over a group of homeless people sleeping in a temporary shelter on the roadside in Lucknow’s Dalibagh locality early on Sunday, killing five persons. Police said four persons were injured in the incident.
Hazratganj Station House Officer D K Upadhyaya said Ayush Kumar, son of former MLA late Ashok Kumar, was driving the car. Investigating Officer Sub-Inspector Virendra Kumar Rai said a medical examination of Ayush and his friend Nikhit Arora, who was also in the car, confirmed that the two were drunk.
The two students, who are in their early 20s, were booked under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 279 (rash driving). They were sent to jail after being produced in court.
Ayush’s father Ashok Kumar was a Janata Party MLA from Malihabad seat of Lucknow. The car belonged to Nikhit’s father Puneet Arora, who runs a factory manufacturing nuts and bolts.
According to the police, more than 90 homeless daily-wage earners were sleeping inside the tent that had been put up by an NGO, Ummeed, on the footpath opposite one of the MLAs’ hostels. Around 1.30 am, the car ran over the tent.
Ramzan Ali, a mason from Bahraich who was among those sleeping in the shelter, said, “It was raining yesterday and that is why more people were sleeping inside the tent. There were at least 90 people inside. They were sleeping in two rows with their belongings kept in the middle. I woke up on hearing the noise of the car. There were people running around to save themselves. The car was speeding and stopped only on hitting the wall.”
While four persons died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries at the trauma centre of King George’s Medical University. Four of the dead were identified as Prithviraj, Abdul Kalam, Gokaran (all residents of Bahraich district) and Devraj Pandey whose address is yet to be confirmed. One of those killed is yet to be identified, the police said.
Mohammad Akhtar, 24, who was admitted to the trauma centre for treatment, said he came to Lucknow a week ago to work as a labourer.
“I woke up to screams. For a while, I could not understand what had happened. I stood up and tried to help the injured. Then I felt pain in my abdomen and collapsed.”
Balbir Singh Mann, the founder of Ummeed, said that following the incident, the police asked the NGO to remove the shelter. “We were asked to remove the shelter. We had been putting this shelter for the past eight years. What is our fault if some drunk person does something like this?”
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