Santosh Mane reported for work at the bus depot here at around 8am Wednesday — just like any other day. But in the next two hours, the 39-year-old driver unleashed horror on the city’s crowded streets as he hijacked a bus, exited the depot like a bat out of hell and proceeded on a crazed death race that left eight persons dead.
The 39-year-old Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation driver — driving on the wrong side — sent people, vehicles and objects flying. Barricades and even police bullets wouldn’t stop him. Finally, 15 km down the road, he crashed into an electric pole and was finally overpowered by the public and police, who were in hot pursuit.
But the damage had already been done — 27 people injured and 23 vehicles, including handcarts and autorickshaws, damaged. Since it was rush hour, most of Mane’s victims were students, office-goers and labourers. Five of the injured are reportedly in critical condition.
“He just went berserk. He went on ramming whatever vehicles were plying the road,” city commissioner of police Meeran Borwankar said.
“Citizens came forward and literally threw children (out of the way). He was in such a dangerous mood.”
“He was a nutcase, he had completely lost his head,” said an officer in the local police control room, who asked not to be named.
Mane was beaten by the public before he was taken away by the police. In his statement, he told the police he did not remember anything.
Initial reports said Mane was mentally disturbed, but the police said it was too early to comment. A doctor said he was being treated for schizophrenia.
Some people even though it was a terror strike.
(With agency inputs)