The city woke up to a mayhem this morning as a state transport bus ploughed through the streets,ramming and smashing several vehicles,leaving eight persons dead and 27 injured.
Driver Santosh Mane — attached to the Swargate depot of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) wrote the deadly script of the nightmarish drama across a 25 km stretch of road.
His family members,and a doctor from his native village,said he was suffering from mental ailments.
According to the Pune police and MSRTC authorities,Mane entered the driver’s cabin of a bus in the depot,scheduled to leave for Satara,when its driver was away for a cup of tea. He took the bus out,and drove down the wrong side,catching the vehicle drivers coming from opposite direction off guard.
Onlookers said that he drove like a maniac. As people ran helter-skelter,police vans started a hot chase.
Helped by a youth who followed the bus on motorbike,police finally managed to halt Mane after firing about 10 rounds to puncture the bus’ tyres as it slowed down in traffic jam near the Neelayam theatre.
Police had earlier said that nine persons were killed,but revised the figure later to eight. Three among of the 27 injured are critical. The deceased included three women.
Pune police commissioner,Meeran Borwankar,said Mane had returned from a routine trip only yesterday. He was at present being interrogated to know his state of mind,and motive.
Swargate depot officials confirmed that Mane had done a Gangapur-Pune trip last night and was performing his duties regularly.
However,Santosh’s brother,Jagan Mane,said from village Kavthade,near Solapur,”It is true that he was mentally disturbed,but we had no idea his aliment would cost so many lives. Otherwise we would have stopped him from driving.”
Dr Dilip Borte,a local,said that he was treating Mane for depression for the last many years.
“Mane was my patient for many years,and was under the treatment for his psychiatric problems. He was a little absent-minded,and talked nonsense sometimes. He was a depressed person,” Borte said from Kavthade.
Santosh has three children. His wife,in a state of shock after hearing the horrific news,was admitted to a hospital,his brother said.