SIX KANWARIYAS were killed after being hit by a dumper truck near Sadabad in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of Saturday, police said, adding that a seventh person was injured but in a stable condition.
The driver of the dumper truck fled from the spot, but was later arrested, police said. According to preliminary investigations, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the pilgrims, said a senior police officer.
Police identified the dead as Ranveer (30), Jawar Singh (26), Naresh (45), Manoj (38), Rameshpal (52) and Vikas (28), all residents of Bahangi Khurd village in Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh. They were walking back from Haridwar, as part of the kanwar yatra, when the incident took place.
Five of the men died at the spot while a sixth succumbed to injuries at Sarojini Naidu Medical College in Agra.
A senior police officer identified the accused driver as Pravesh, who is in his late 30s and works for a Madhya Pradesh-based transporter. “He was carrying road construction material in a dumper truck from Gwalior to Sikandra Rau near Hathras, on the Agra-Aligarh highway. The kanwariyas were walking along the same road and were on their way to Gwalior after completing the rituals at Haridwar. Initial investigations have revealed that between 1.30 am and 2 am, a vehicle came in front of the accused’s truck, and, in order to avoid it, he swerved to the left and lost control, crashing into the seven pilgrims. He then fled the spot but was eventually caught,” said the officer. “He was arrested on the road between Agra and Gwalior, and the dumper truck was also recovered,” he said.
At the spot of the accident, 19-year-old Akash, who works at a roadside dhaba, recalled waking up to a loud, screeching noise.The bodies were sent to the district hospital in Hathras for post-mortem, and later handed over to their families, who took them to Gwalior on Saturday morning. “The seventh pilgrim, Abhishek (27), fractured his leg and is stable. His family also took him back to Gwalior on Saturday morning,” said the officer.
The men were part of a group of 21, all residents of Bahangi Khurd village, who had left for Haridwar on July 15.
At the accident site, 19-year-old Akash, who works at a roadside dhaba, recalled waking up to a loud, screeching noise. “I got up and saw a large truck leave the spot, while five-six men were lying on the side of the road with blood all over them,” he said, adding that the police arrived shortly after and took the men away.
An FIR under IPC Sections 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304A (causing death by negligence) has been registered against the accused and further investigation is underway, police said.
In a tweet, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he had received the “heartbreaking news” of the incident, and prayed for the families of those killed.
The official handle of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted that he “has expressed deep grief over the loss of lives due to road accident in Hathras district” and “expressed his condolences to the bereaved families”.