Twenty-nine pilgrims, including nine women and three children, were killed and 37 seriously injured in a canter-truck collision on the Rajgarh-Hisar road near Sainiwas village, about 60 km from Bhiwani, on Monday.
The accident took place around 7:15am when the overloaded canter (Tata 407) collided head-on with a truck while trying to overtake another vehicle. Twenty-two persons died on the spot, while others succumbed to injuries on the way to various hospitals.
Police officials said the canter was carrying as many as 78 people, most of them hailing from Sisarhato village near Kalayat in Haryana's Kaithal district, who were returning home from a pilgrimage at Amarpura Dham in Amarpura village near Rajgarh (Rajasthan).
People from nearby villages rushed to the spot and helped the police extricate the bodies and send the injured to various hospitals.
About 25 people were admitted to the Hisar civil hospital. Three persons were referred to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak, where one was declared dead.
The bodies of 24 people were sent to the Bhiwani general hospital, and of five others to the Hisar general hospital.
Deepak Kumar, who lost his brother Mahipal in the accident, told HT, "The canter was carrying members of several families from Kalayat village. They had departed from Kalayat for the pilgrimage on Saturday night," he added.
Superintendent of police (SP) B Satheesh Balan claimed that the accident took place due to the canter driver's rash driving. He said the canter owner had converted the vehicle into a double-decker vehicle to accommodate a large number of people.
The deceased have been identified as Santosh, Chameli, Kamla, Murti, Bhateri, Gaje Singh, Rajendra, Mahipal, Prakash Chand, Same Singh, Parveen Kumar, Jagmal, Dayanand, Janak, Shyam Singh Rana, Rohtash, Guddi, Sonia, Om Prakash, Ajani, Balwan, Ram Swarup and Inder Singh from Kalayat village (Kaithal district); Kajal from Thua village (Jind); Ajay from Kotda village (Kaithal); Bittu from Sisar village (Hisar district); and Ashu and Dhanpati from Sajuma village (in Punjab's Sangrur district). A woman is yet to be identified.
Haryana public health engineering minister Kiran Choudhry, chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Ram Kishan Singh Fauji, CPS Dharambir Singh and Bhiwani MLA Ghanshyam Sharraf were among those who visited the general hospital here.
Choudhry, Fauji, education minister Geeta Bhukkal and housing minister Satpal Sangwan also expressed condolences to the bereaved families.
Expressing shock at the accident, Haryana industries minister and Kaithal MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala said,
"It is regrettable that so many innocent men, women and children were involved in such a horrific crash," he said.
On June 25, eight persons, including six of a family, were killed when a pick-up van rammed into a stationary dumper near Samaspur village in Bhiwani.
Hooda announces Rs. 2 lakh ex gratia
Chandigarh: Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced ex gratia compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each for the next of kin of people who lost their lives in an accident on the Rajgarh-Hisar road on Monday.
He also announced Rs. 50,000 each for the seriously injured and Rs 20,000 each for the injured.
The state government is also providing free treatment to the injured, an official release said, adding that Hooda cancelled his visit to Kurukshetra and rushed to Hisar to console the members of the bereaved families.