Around 35 students of a private school had a miraculous escape after their bus tilted and was left stranded while crossing a flooded causeway near Rajpar village of Morbi district, Gujarat but were rescued by local villagers on Thursday. Maliya police said the incident took place at around 8 am when the bus carrying students of Shree Nilkanth Vidhyalaya (earlier known as Atmiya Vidyalaya) of Pipaliya village was on its way back to school after picking up students from nearby Rajpar village.
Police said that despite warning from residents of Rajpar and adjoining Kuntasi villages, the driver took the risk to cross the causeway across a swollen stream. The bus was left stranded midway as its wheels got stuck in potholes dug by the gushing water and tilted dangerously towards the conductor’s side. “However, residents of Rajpar and Kuntasi who had gathered on the either bank of the stream rushed to rescue the students even as the bus driver abandoned the vehicle and ran away. No student has been injured,” Assistant Sub-inspector of Maliya, Manharpari Goswami said.
Bhavesh Kasundhra, director of the self-finaced Nilkanth Vidyalaya termed the incident an accident. “The bus driver had been ferrying students on that route for the last 10 years. This morning he managed to cross it and reached Rajpar. But on the way back, he contacted us saying the causeway was flooded. I advised him to cross it only if he felt confident and saw no risk. Assessing there wasn’t much water on the causeway, he tried to cross it back. But apparently, there was some breach of potholes on that side of the causeway. The bus was stranded. But nobody has been injured,” said Kasundhra.
The school director said that there were around 35 students, studying in Class-I to Class-XII. However, Morbi district primary education officer Bhavesh Dave issued a show-cause notice to Nilkanth and six other schools which remained open on Thursday. “We had issued instructions to all schools in the district at 4:45 am to remain shut on Thursday due to forecast of heavy rain. But Atmiya Vidyalaya and six others ignored the instructions opened in the morning. Therefore, we have issued show-cause notices them asking why did they open despite an order from district collector to remain shut for the day,” Dave told The Indian Express adding they have ordered closure of
schools on Friday also.
But Kasundra claimed that they received the message from authorities at around 7:30 am. “We received the instructions at 7:30 am. But our buses leave to pick up students at around 6:30 am. Today also, the bus had left for picking up students before the message to keep the school closed for the day reached us,” he said.
Incidentally, many parts of Morbi district were flooded early this month and again on Sunday due to very heavy rain in the district. Meanwhile, Maliya police have booked the bus driver Lakha Boricha under IPC Section 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and under Sections 177, 184 and 134 of Motor Vehicles Act for dangerous driving. ASI Manharpari Goswami has filed the complaint on behalf of the state government. Goswami said that the driver was on the run.
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