At least 10 passengers including three women and two children were charred to death and 15 injured on Sunday evening in Barwani district when the crew of one bus set fire to another.
The incident occurred at a place about 300 km southwest of Bhopal, after the drivers of the two private vehicles got into an argument.
Subsequently irate villagers set afire the second bus. However, the passengers in this bus escaped casualties because they had all alighted.
Eyewitnesses and the police said both the buses, one of Rajasthan (Nasik-Sikar route) and the other of Madhya Pradesh (Sendhva-Indore route), were going in same direction. The drivers of the two buses first had a tiff near a toll plaza.
When the Madhya Pradesh bus reached a place near the integrated outpost at Balsamud, the Rajasthan bus overtook it and forced it to stop.
Before the passengers of the Madhya Pradesh bus could realise anything, two drivers of the Rajasthan bus, Tarun Soni and Rajkumar Kushwah, and conductor Dileep Sharma got out petrol from two motorbikes, sprinkled it on the bus and set it on fire.
Barwani superintendent of police RS Meena said an FIR against was lodged against the three accused. District collector Renu Tiwari has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Rajendra Baburao Khori said he lost his father, Baburao, 62; mother, Suman, 55; wife, Manisha, 28; and daughter Sakshi, 3, in the gory incident.
Local residents helped some passengers to jump out of the bus. Some did so after breaking the window panes.
The miscreants belong to Madhya Pradesh and are absconding. Five of the injured were rushed to Indore, while the rest were admitted to a hospital in Sendhva.