The family had been on the road for three days — Rajan Yadav, 35, driving the autorickshaw he had bought only six months ago, with his wife, two children and a nephew. Two relatives were trailing them on a motorcycle. Around 7 am on Tuesday, having covered 1,500 km, and with home just 200 km away, the relatives on the motorcycle decided to speed ahead. Moments later, Rajan’s autorickshaw was hit on the side by a truck.
Rajan’s wife Sanju, 33, and daughter Nandini, 6 — who were sitting on that side of the vehicle — were killed. Rajan survived with minor injuries, as did his son Nikhil (9) and nephew Akash (16).
Sanju’s brother Bhole Shankar, 45, and Rajan’s nephew Mukesh Yadav, 19, who were on the motorcycle, said they were brushing their teeth by the road when they saw a truck go past. “We had come together all the way, but nearing home, we thought we would speed a bit,” Bhole Shankar said.
The accident happened in the Khaga police station area of Fatehpur district. Inspector Satyendra Singh said that when the truck hit, “The woman and daughter fell out of the autorickshaw and came under the truck’s wheels.”
Rajan said Sanju had been dozing with Nandini on her lap when the truck hit. Speaking to The Indian Express from the ambulance carrying their bodies home to Mokalpur village in Jaunpur, he said, “We were all exhausted after travelling for three days.”
It was after driving a rented autorickshaw in Mumbai for 13 years that Rajan had saved enough to buy one last year. However, the lockdown broke his back. “I have not earned anything in the past month-and-a-half. We borrowed what we could, but now everyone is struggling. We left after taking Rs 3,000 from neighbours and friends.”
Rajan added that they were tired of waiting for a train. “Around 10 days ago, we had our medical examination done and got a certificate from the local administration, but there was no news of any train. We asked everyone.”
With little hope of “autorickshaws being allowed to run in Mumbai in the near future”, they left the city on Saturday, he said. “We packed some rotis and aaloo sabzi and started.”
Rajan said he was unable to catch the numberplate of the truck in the commotion following the accident. Police are yet to identify the vehicle. A case has been lodged under IPC Sections 279 (rash driving) and 304-A (causing death by negligence).
“My wife and I had come so far and then the accident happened. Now, I am going back home with her and my daughter’s bodies,” Rajan sobbed, his son and nephew with him.
They reached home around 9.30 pm, delayed by the post mortem and other formalities. The cremation will be held on Wednesday.
The autorickshaw, its roof ripped off, bloodstains on the side, stands at the Khaga police station. Rajan said he would return to pick it up. “I don’t know if I will take it back to Mumbai. Maybe I will just stay here.”