A co-passenger in the bus in which a 13-year-old girl who was molested and thrown out of a moving bus in Moga district has said that the bus was almost full when the incident took place.
Talking to HT, Tarsem Singh, an inspector with the horticulture department who had boarded the bus at the toll plaza, said there were at least 30 to 40 people in the bus at that time. He said he was sitting in the middle of the bus and realised what had happened only when he heard the shouts that a girl had fallen off. He said the bus was moving at a swift pace when the girl “fell” off, followed by another woman after which the bus was brought to a halt by the driver.
“I heard the first screams only when the girl fell off. The conductor who gave me the ticket was sitting at the back but I am not sure if he and the others molested the girl,” he added.
He said the driver brought the bus to a halt within seconds of the two falling off. “A huge crowd gathered outside within minutes. The passengers of the bus took other buses to reach their destinations.”
Tarsem said the 64-seat bus was almost full.
Gurdaspur SSP Jatinder Singh Khaira said other than Tarsem they did not have details of any other passenger who was in the bus with the victim and her family. “According to our information, there were at least two dozen passengers in the bus,” he said.
The victim’s mother Chhinder Kaur, in her statement to the police, had said that only five to six persons were in the bus when she and her daughter were molested and thrown out.
“Despite the incident making national headlines, no co-passenger has bothered to approach the police with information on what happened,” the SSP said. Even Tarsem was identified by the police through the CCTV footage at the toll plaza. He was then contacted to record his statement.
The police, are, however yet to access the video footage of the CCTV cameras at the Moga bus stand. The video footage accessed by the HT team clearly shows the faces of many people waiting near the stop where the bus was stationed to take passengers. The HT team found that the bus left the Moga bus stand at 3.22 pm after paying an adda fee of Rs 50.
While a case of murder and molestation has been registered on the statement of the victim’s mother, the police are working on other theories as well. Police sources said the girl and her mother having fallen off “accidentally” is not possible as the back door of the bus is closed through a hydraulic system controlled by the driver which a passenger cannot open.
“If we consider another possibility that the child and her mother jumped off the bus, obviously something gross was happening inside to force them to take the step. We are investigating the case and will get to the bottom of it,” said a senior police officer.