Monday being the first day of the new academic year for Class 12 students of Bal Bharti Public School in Pitampura, Delhi, Saksham was among the early birds at the school. He waited excitedly to meet his best friend, Atul Arora, but the 17-year-old boy did not turn up for the assembly.
Saksham had barely settled down in his new classroom after the assembly when a teacher walked in to break the tragic news of Arora’s death in a road accident allegedly involving a speeding Mercedes car. Atul’s other friends had learnt of the accident during the assembly itself and left for his home.
“Our excitement of first day in new class turned into a tragedy. I quickly left the school to see my friend for the last time,” said Saksham. He recounted how happy Arora had sounded over phone on Saturday after learning that he had scored 54% marks in his Class 11 exams.
The news of Arora’s death let everyone in a somber mood at his school. “Everyone has been under great stress the entire day. He was a good boy and strong academically. Such a fine life has been wasted,” said Meenu Goswami, the school principal.
Interested in “exploring the world”, Arora had chosen a combination of economics and geography in his Class 11. “He saw Geography subject as an opportunity to pursue his interest,” said Arora’s sister Ruchi.iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/91jdqDUsB4s?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
She defended her brother’s decision to ride a scooty despite not holding a licence. “He was an obedient boy and never took the scooty without my mother’s permission. We gave him the scooty keys on Sunday night only because he was to drop a friend just about a kilometre away from home,” said Ruchi, a school teacher.
The family went to attend a religious programme, about a kilometer from their home, on Sunday evening. They decided to return home by 10 pm so that Arora could wake up on time to attend the first day of his new class. “We were returning by car. Atul said he would be home before us. Now he will never return,” Ruchi said.
She confirmed that Arora did not have a driving licence, but said she was not sure if he wore a helmet or not. Police have said he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. DCP (Outer), Rishi Pal, said that the boy was not wearing a helmet.
But that should not deter the police from conducting a thorough probe, she said. “The Mercedes driver needs to be identified and arrested, otherwise our faith in the police will die. We hope the delay in identifying him does not give the real driver an opportunity to arrange for a dummy driver,” said Ruchi.
“There were so many eyewitnesses. They picked up broken parts of the Mercedes car involved in the accident. It is clear that my brother was killed by a Mercedes car. The driver should not be allowed to go scot-free just because he is wealthy,” she said.
Arora lived with his father Ajay Kumar, mother Sangeeta and two sisters in GH-14 Block of Paschim Vihar in West Delhi. His father, who had suffered paralysis a few years ago and still struggles to walk, works as the personal assistant to a chief engineer with the Delhi Development Authority. His mother and eldest sister are teachers with private schools while a sister older to him is a second year DU student.