Sheetal Kukkad (29): Was six months pregnant. Leaves behind three-year-old son Aasthik. She was posted as Hindi mistress at Government Middle School Wasil Mohan Ke Utad (Ferozepur). “Bhabhi was six months pregnant. Delivery was due in March next year,” says Vishal, cousin of Sheetal’s husband Gaurav Kukkad. Gaurav works as medical representative. Sheetal was transferred to the current school from a school near Valtoha a month-and-a-half back and was happy as it reduced the distance from her house to the school, Vishal says.
Tejinder Kaur (26): The teacher at SGPC-run Mann Singh Khalsa School in Jalalabad had got married only 13 days back, on November 27. Her husband Amanpreet Singh works with HDFC bank and deals with agricultural loans, says Amanpreet’s younger brother Manpreet Singh.
Ram Pal (30): Transferred to some other school in June, he had boarded the ill-fated vehicle to go to his old place of posting on Friday as another teacher was on leave and there was space available in taxi. Ram Pal was posted as ETT teacher at Government Primary School Kular (Fazilka) after his transfer from a school in Ferozepur district. Fazilka District Education Officer Dr S S Bal said, “A lady teacher was on leave on Friday as her kid was unwell. There was space available in the taxi. Ram Pal decided to go to his old place of positing in connection with some work and and boarded the vehicle.” Ram Pal leaves behind two daughters, one aged 4 and the other just one-and-a-half-year old. Wife works as an employee under Zila Parishad. Ram Pal had joined as ETT teacher in December 2006.
Kiran Bala (23): She had joined as ETT teacher at Government Primary School at Buttar in Ferozepur district only two months ago and was yet to receive her first salary of Rs 10,300 per month, according to her younger brother Karan. Kiran’s father, who was also a teacher, died of heart attack a few years ago after which her mother was given the job on compassionate grounds. Kiran’s twin brothers, Karan and Arjun, study in BA second year.
Nitasha (31): She had joined as government teacher on November 7. Her father retired as manager of a co-operative bank on November 30. She was an MCA, B.Ed and posted as English language teacher at Government High School Tehal Singh (Ferozepur). Was married to a commission agent (arhtiya) at Balluana. The couple had a three-year-old daughter. Nitasha stayed at her parents’ place on weekdays after his appointment as teacher. “I dropped her at the place where she boards the van (taxi) at 7:45 am. At 8:15 am, I got a call about the accident. On weekends, she used to go back to her in-laws’ place,” said her father Jai Chand. Her three-year-old daughter studies at DPS Abohar.
Binti Rani (30): She leaves behind an 8-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. Her husband is also a teacher. She was posted as Hindi mistress at Government High School Chhaga Rai Utad (Ferozepur). She had joined as teacher on December 22, 2006, according to her husband Sanjeev Kumar, and was the in-charge of the school.
Ashish Kataria (40): He leaves behind a six-year-old son. His father is a typist, mother a housewife. Ashish was posted as Hindi language teacher at Government High School Chakk Haraj (Ferozepur). His cousin Bharat Bhushan said his wife was also working.
Sukhjeet Singh (24): An MA in vocal music, he had joined as music teacher at Government Senior Secondary School for Girls at Guruharsahai (Ferozepur) two-and-a-half months back. “He had a very melodious voice. He got married only a-year-and-a-half back. His wife too is a teacher. His sister is married to my son,” said Jagsir Singh, the District Education Officer at Ferozepur.
Manohar Lal (35): He leaves behind 6-year-old son Lovish and a 4-year-old daughter Drishti. His wife joined as a physical training instructor in 2009. Manohar (MA, B.Ed ) was posted as Hindi language teacher at Government High School Pindi Ferozepur after joining education department in 2007.
Shankar Lal (40): Leaves behind two sons aged 14 and 8. His wife is said to be “mentally unstable and undergoing treatment”. Shankar was posted as Hindi language teacher at Government High School Jhonk Tehal Singh (Ferozepur). His sons Amit Kumar studies in 9th standard and Harshit studies in 3rd standard.
Sonu: Worked as driver and leaves behind two daughters (aged 10 and 12) and a four-year-old son. His father is a daily wager. “He worked as driver for a salary of about Rs 4,000 a month,” said his cousin Gurdeep Singh, adding that Sonu’s wife and father were “daily wagers”.
Sanjeev Bhagla (35): Leaves behind polio-stricken father who was entirely dependent on him, two sons, wife and an ailing mother. He was posted as Hindi language teacher at Government High School Lakha Haji (Ferozepur). His father Kundan Lal is a retired teacher. Sanjeev’s neighbour Shiv Pal Singh says, “Kundan Lal was polio-stricken. Sometime back, he fractured his hip due to a fall. Sanjeev’s mother is also ailing. Sanjeev was the only son. Family is in big crisis.” Sanjeev’s sister is married and lives in Fazilka. She is a computer teacher. Sanjeev leaves behind two sons, 7 and 3.
Nazam Singh (37): Leaves behind one-month-old son. He was posted as physical training instructor at Government Middle School Jallo Ke Hithad (Ferozepur). According to his cousin brother Gulwant Singh, Nazam had to fight a court case before he got his present job three-and-a-half years back. Nazam’s elder brother is married, the younger serves at a Delhi gurdwara. The family nearly owns an acre-and-a-half of land. “Nazam’s uncle helped him get education. Now, when he was settled, destiny did this to family. There is wave of grief in the village,” said Gulwant. Nazam got married only last year.