Barely five minutes after leaving the Sector-43 inter-state bus terminus (ISBT) on Monday, a Punjab Roadways bus overran a rickshaw, killing a two-year-old girl and her relative. The rickshaw-puller and the two-year-old victim's mother are among the eight injured, including the driver and passengers of the bus.
According to passengers, the bus driver, Sharanjit Singh, who suffered multiple injuries but was stable at the PGI, suffered a fit at the Sector 43-44-51-52 roundabout next to the ISBT barely two minutes of the bus starting at 1.25pm. He took the wrong turn to the Sector 43-44 dividing road, ramming the rickshaw.
Two Kajheri residents, Priya (2) and her mother Anita (33), along with their relative from Kangra, Shobha Devi (38), were travelling on the rickshaw being pulled by Bhajan Lal, who is battling for his life at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI).
While Priya and Shobha died, Anita was admitted to the Sector-32 Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), where her condition is stated to be critical.
Eyewitnesses and passengers said before the bus driver could apply brakes, the bus tossed the rickshaw in the air, killing the woman and the infant. The driver's body having stiffened due to the fit, he then rammed into roadside trees, uprooting four trees before coming to a stop on the footpath. All it took was five minutes. The police rushed the injured to hospitals.
This is the second incident in less than week where a driver losing control has resulted in a mishap involving a state-run bus. A Haryana Roadways bus had rammed into Tribune Chowk after the driver dozed off on Thursday night.
The accident this afternoon led to chaos as the heavy afternoon traffic tried to find its way through the jam. The road was also closed down for about half an hour to save the commuters from further inconvenience and to remove the bus and rickshaw, and the uprooted trees.
Narrating the sequence of events, bus conductor Baljeet Singh said he was busy issuing tickets to the 21 passengers when the sudden mishap occurred.
A passenger, Kishan Lal, said the driver appeared to be unwell but it happened so quickly that no one could react.
The police have registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent act under section 304 A and 279 of the IPC against the driver. Station house officer of Sector 36, Bhupinder Singh said, "We are trying to ascertain whether it was the first time that the driver suffered such a fit. If he had a medical history, he should not have been allowed to ply the vehicle."
While six of those injured are admitted to the PGI, two are at GMCH-32.