A pall of gloom descended on the Muddha and Talwandi Bharo villages of Nakodar sub-division on Monday as wails of families who lost their children in the road crash on Nakodar-Jalandhar road, wrenched the surroundings.
An HT team visited the house of NRI Narinder Singh in Muddha village, who lost his son Sukhman Singh (5) and nephew Jaskaran (6). Bodies of the cousins were lying in the courtyard, where mothers Sukhman and Jaskaran were inconsolable and were entreating their children to open their eyes once.
"I could not see my son in the morning. However, he had told me last night that he was to leave for school early tomorrow because of his exam," said Narinder Singh, who adopted Sukhman from his brother Jaswinder Singh since from his birth.
Mohan Singh (65) grandfather of Manpreet (5), another victim, said that his daughter was mentally retarded and he had been taking care of both the mother and the son.
"Only in the last academic session, did we change Manpreet's school on his insistence. He had even grown his hair to join the Akal Academy."
He added that the 5-year-old wanted to pose as 'Panj Pyara' in 'Gurpurab' celebrations of the village.
For Preetpal Singh, father of Harjasmeet Kaur (5) of Muddha village, it was difficult to belief that his daughter is no more. "At 7:15 am, I dropped my daughter to the school van and even advised the driver to go slow," a wailing father said. "A written complaint had been lodged againt the driver several times with the school authorities, but no action was ever taken," he alleged.
Jaskaran Singh, father of Gurjowan Singh (5), another victim, said that: “Two of my nieces Jashanpreet Kaur (7) and Navdeep Kaur (9), who were in the same bus, received severe injuries in the accident,” Jaskaran said.
In Talwandi Bharo village, Gurmej Singh lost his two grandsons Manpreet (10) and Jashanpreet (5).
Manpreet was son of his widow daughter Manjit Kaur, who was living with his father after losing his husband in road crash two years back.
"My daughter was hoping to lead a happy life with his son. All is lost now."
In another house of Talwandi Bharon, body of Karanveer Singh (10) was lying in the courtyard. Karaneer was killed, while his cousins Yovanpreet Kaur (8) and Jagdeep (5) survived the crash.
A horrified Yovanpreet, with bandage on her head, said: "Manpreet was sitting on the next seat and I found him in pool of blood and other kids crying for help. Suddenly, an uncle came and lifted me from the seat, where I was struck along with my brother Jagdeep," she said.
Gurjot Singh (10), son of Major Singh, Navpreet Kaur (4) daughter of Harjinder Singh, who is currently in Kuwait; Gurleen Kaur (6) daughter of head constable Karnail Singh and Kanwarpreet Singh (4), son of Sarabjit Singh, were the other victims Talwandi Bharo village.
Punjab ministers Ajit Singh Kohar, Sarwan Singh Phillaur and local MLA Gurpratap Singh Wadala visited the homes of the kids.
SSP Yurinder Singh and deputy commissioner Shruti Singh also visited the spot and the civil hospital and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of those killed in the crash.
Later on, the victims were collectively cremated at the common ground of Muddha and Talwandi Bharo villages.