A one-and-a-half year-old boy died after he was knocked down by a beach patrolling vehicle at Girgaum Chowpatty on Friday morning.
The boy, Arjun Prakash Naidu, was taken to Harkisandas Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival, police said
According to eyewitnesses and relatives of the deceased, Arjun was playing near a bhelpuri stall at the food court on Chowpatty while his mother was busy selling candy to picnickers.
Constable Sunil Sehdev Sohni was driving the jeep when the child suddenly came before the vehicle. Before Sohni realised what happened, Arjun was knocked down. He had sustained severe head injuries.
“The police halted the jeep for a minute and put the child in the rear seat,” said Karan Chavan, Arjun’s uncle. “They would have sped away if we had not forcibly stopped them. then sat inside the vehicle and asked the driver to take the child to the hospital.”
Chavan alleged that despite Arjun’s serious condition, Sohni did not take him directly to the hospital. “The police constable first went to the Chowpatty police chowkie and then to the DB Marg police station. After wasting nearly half-an-hour, they took Arjun to the hospital where he was declared dead,” said Chavan, adding that the constable wasted precious time in which the boy’s life could be saved.
A small-time vendor, Chavan said the family and 60 others had been living on the beach after the civic body razed their hutments in October. The city collector department had ordered the demolition of over 100 hutments on the beach.
And with no houses, they were forced to sleep on the beach, he said.
Anil Kumbhare, deputy commissioner of police (Zone 2), refuted all allegations saying that the driver of the vehicle had immediately taken the boy to the hospital. “he suddenly came in front of the jeep and Sohni could not control the vehicle,” said Kumbhare.
The driver was arrested late in the evening. The police have booked Sohni under section 304 (a) of the IPC (causing death due to negligence) and will arrest him soon, he said.