Seven Amritsar pilgrims were among 19 killed in two bus accidents in Kangra and Mandi districts of Himachal Pradesh in the past 24 hours.
A private bus (PB-02-CR-5571)— on its way from Amritsar’s Chaitta village to the revered shrine of Jwalaji in Kangra district — skidded off the road and rolled down a gorge near Dhaliara, around 60km from Dharamshala, on Sunday, killing seven Amritsar residents, including three women. The police said 33 people were injured in the accident.
The deceased were identified as Chandan (16), Anil Sharma (50), Suman Kumari (40) Banarsi (62), Saurabh (32), Surinder (40) and Satish (20). Police said four people died on the spot and three succumbed to their injuries in a hospital.
The injured were rushed to the Dehra civil hospital from where 13 were referred to Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda, in a serious condition. A total of 40 persons were travelling in the bus.
Kangra superintendent of police (SP) Sanjeev Gandhi said: “Prima facie it appears that the bus was being driven at a high speed. The police have registered a case of negligent driving.”
Kangra deputy commissioner Ritesh Chauhan said the administration had released ex gratia of Rs 25,000 to the kin of deceased and the injured have been given a relief of Rs 5,000 each.
Mandi mishap snuffs out 12 lives
In another incident, at least 12 people, including a six-year-old girl, were killed and 42 others injured when a Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus fell into a gorge at Galu near Jogindernagar, 60km from Mandi, around 9pm on Saturday.
The overcrowded bus with over 50 people on board was on its way to Rekong Peo in Kinnaur district from Dharamshala.
Witnesses told police that the cause of the accident was overloading and bad condition of the road.
A portion of the road caved in when the bus was overtaking another vehicle, said a survivor. Locals said the road had been dug up for laying telephone cables.
Most of the injured were admitted to the Jogindernagar civil hospital while 18 were referred to Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda.
Mandi deputy commissioner Sandeep Kadam, superintendent of police Prem Thakur, Jogindernagar sub-divisional magistrate Rahul Chauhan and police personnel reached the spot supervised the rescue operation, which continued till the wee hours of Sunday. Area residents were the first to launch the rescue operation and local taxi operators voluntarily ferried the injured to the hospital. The police have registered a under Sections 279, 337 and 304A of the Indian Penal Code against the bus driver. The deceased were identified as Uttam Singh of Draman in Kangra district, Neeraj Kumar of Blah in Mandi district, Krishan Kumar of
Nurpur in Kangra, Devender of Padhar in Mandi, Sunita Devi of Nerchowk in Mandi, Kamla Devi of Kinnaur and Kanhiya Lal Gupta, Pushpa, Rashmi Gupta, Rajat Gupta, A Asvik, all from West Bengal. One body is yet to be identified, the police said.
Himachal governor Acharya Dev Vrat and chief minister Virbhadra Singh have mourned the death of passengers.
The CM also met the injured in at the Tanda hospital and announced ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased, Rs 10,000 to seriously injured passengers and Rs 5,000 to passengers with minor injuries. He also directed officials to give free treatment to the injured persons.