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Pothole death: No CCTVs, police look for eyewitnesses to crack case

On Wednesday, 61-year-old businessman Jagdish Sukhija bled to death after his scooter hit a pothole on the Ring Road near Metcalfe House.

delhi Updated: Oct 28, 2017 23:05 IST
Karn Pratap Singh
On Wednesday, 61-year-old businessman Jagdish Sukhija bled to death after his scooter hit a pothole on the Ring Road near Metcalfe House.
On Wednesday, 61-year-old businessman Jagdish Sukhija bled to death after his scooter hit a pothole on the Ring Road near Metcalfe House. (Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

Police are trying to piece together the sequence of events that led to the death of an elderly man in a road accident caused by a pothole in Civil Lines on Wednesday.

The police said they had got in touch with more than 12 people in the last three days to find eye witnessed.

On Wednesday, 61-year-old businessman Jagdish Sukhija bled to death after his scooter hit a pothole on the Ring Road near Metcalfe House.

Police said that the people they had contacted included local residents, street vendors and employees of some government offices located around the accident site.

Jatin Narwal, deputy commissioner of police (north), said staff from the Civil Lines police station spoke to more than 10 families in the locality on Saturday.

However, all the families claimed they had not witnessed the accident.

“We are yet to find an eyewitness who could tell us if the senior citizen’s scooter hit the pothole on the road or was the two-wheeler hit by an unknown vehicle,” said Narwal.

Police, in their FIR, have mentioned the presence of a pothole near the spot where Sukhija was found unconscious and his scooter lying on the road.

“But at this point we can neither deny nor confirm that the pothole led to the accident. There were no eyewitnesses when our police team reached the spot. There are no CCTVs close to the spot,” said Narwal. A case of death by negligence and rash driving was registered against unknown people.

Sukhija’s son, Rahul, said his father’s scooter hit a pothole after which he fell and hit his head on the road. “He suffered severe injuries and bled from his nose and ears, despite wearing a helmet,” said Rahul.

“Passersby rushed my father to Sushruta Trauma Centre, where doctors declared him dead. They told us that my father’s scooter hitting a pothole on Ring Road,” said Rahul.

A senior police officer said that a street vendor, Madan Yadav, told them about an auto-rickshaw driver who had first found Sukhija unconscious on the road. Yadav told police that the auto driver parked his auto on the road next to Sukhija to ensure he is not run over.

“Yadav has claimed that he went to the accident spot only when some passersby gathered and were putting an

injured Sukhija in the auto,” said the officer.

Police are verifying Yadav’s claims. “We are ascertaining if the auto in which Sukhija was taken to the hospital was the same which Yadav had seen at the accident site. The hospital staff, however, told us that the auto driver had not told them how Sukhija met with the accident,” added the officer.

Action against PWD contractor, engineer?

A senior police officer told HT that they will write a letter to the Delhi government’s public works department (PWD) and inform them about the pothole and demand action against the contractor and engineer whose duty was to identify and repair the crater to avoid mishaps.

“If the forensic reports rule out hit-and-run, the circumstantial evidences will make us accept that the accident was caused by a pothole. And in that case we will initiate action against the people responsible for not repairing the pothole,” added the officer.

PWD in denial

In their FIR, police mentioned the presence of a pothole. However, Ashwini Kumar, principal secretary of the Delhi government’s public works department (PWD) — which is responsible for the upkeep of all arterial roads including Ring Road — on Friday denied that the death was caused by a pothole. “My engineers got in touch with the traffic police and told me that the accident was not caused by a pothole,” he said.

The PWD’s engineer-in-chief, Sarvagya Shrivastava, said

there were no potholes on that stretch.

Broken roads and potholes are the biggest cause of road accidents in India. In 2016, as many 6,424 road accidents occurred across the country due to potholes, claiming 2,324 lives.

According to transport ministry data, 132 accidents in the capital were caused by defective road conditions in 2015, claiming 28 lives and leaving 119 people injured.