Even as the Punjab government on Friday constituted a special investigation team to probe the manner in which the accident that killed 40-year-old Swaran Singh took place, not much clarity has emerged even 36 hours after the incident as to what actually happened.
There are stark differences in what the protesting villagers are saying and what the police are putting forth as to how the accident took place. This has further fuelled the allegations that the police are “protecting” the real accused.
Other than the scooter which was contorted into a shapeless piece of metal following the accident, a severely damaged white car – an i20 - was also found near the spot. The three occupants of the car were saved as the car’s airbags had opened following the impact. The luxury bus, which is now parked at the Morinda police station, has no signs of a fresh accident.
While most of those at the dharna site, including the sole “eyewitness” to the accident, said the scooter and also the car were hit by the Mercedes bus of Dabwali transport (the company owned and run by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal), the police theory is that the scooter was hit by a white car and the bus did not touch either the scooter or the car.
The sole eyewitness to the accident is one Jagtar Singh, who runs a dhaba close to the accident spot. He was going to his dhaba around 6.30 am, the time of the incident.
According to him, the scooter was going on the left side of the Chandigarh-Rupnagar highway when the speeding bus coming from behind hit it. Swaran fell off the scooter and probably died on the spot. The bus after hitting the scooter took a sharp right and hit the white car coming from behind the bus. The car, hit by the bus on the left side, skid sharply towards its right hitting the road divider. On hitting the road divider, the car again turned left, skidding all the way across the road onto the kuchha roadside. “The bus did not even stop to see what had happened and by the time people reached Swaran, he was dead,” said Jagtar Singh.
The Rupnagar police, on the other hand, are of the view that the car caused the accident. Rupnagar range IG RK Jaiswal said the car seemed to be crossing a vehicle from the left and did not see the scooter ahead. The car’s right side hit the scooter from behind and Swaran Singh was lifted off the scooter and fell on to the car smashing its front windscreen. The car swerved to the right following the impact with the damaged scooter lodged under the front of the car. The body fell off the car while it was swerving and the scooter was carried some distance under the car to the right. The car hit the divider before turning left with the impact and cutting across the road to come to a standstill on the roadside.
CFSL TEAM GATHERS CLUES
Meanwhile, scientists from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) on Friday gathered clues from the spot, the two damaged vehicles and the bus.
The evidence gathered from the spot, including the initial forensic inputs, point towards the car having hit the scooter. The car has a clear impact damage line in the front right with grey scratches (the scooter’s colour is grey) which matches with the scooter height. The length of the line is almost 22 cm which is the same as the rubber handle behind the scooter where it seems to have been hit. Moreover, the car’s front windscreen is smashed towards the driver side which cannot be explained if the car only hit the divider as has been alleged by the villagers.
On the other hand, the bus which is now stationed at the Morinda police station does not show any substantial damage. The bus has several impact marks on all sides. A set of scratches on the right seemed to be fresh, but these were white and not grey, and at a height much lower than a scooter’s.
PUNJAB FORENSIC TEAM SUBMITS REPORT
A team of experts of the forensic science laboratory, Punjab, submitted its report saying the car had collided with the scooter. The black-colour plastic support of the rear seat of the scooter had white-colour paint flakes. The red-colour Mercedez Benz bus was examined thoroughly and no damage/dent marks were found on the front bumper. No evidence of any transfer of paint of the scooter or of the car was observed on the bus.