Fourteen people, including 13 teachers from Punjab’s border towns of Fazilka and Abohar, headed for different government schools in nearby Ferozepur were killed when their jeep and a truck collided in dense fog on Friday morning. The 14th victim, also from Fazilka, was the driver of the jeep, a Tata Cruiser.
The victims, including five women, were posted in Ferozepur district and had pooled in to engage the jeep for their daily commute.
The accident occurred near Chandmari village, 5km from Fazilka, on the road to Ferozepur when the jeep driver tried to overtake another vehicle in the fog. The jeep hit the truck and the impact was such that half of it went under the truck. The truck driver is absconding.
Five teachers died on the spot, while the rest succumbed to injuries in hospital.
Gopi Chand, the only teacher who survived, was rushed to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot in a critical condition.
The victims included newly appointed elementary teachers Sanjiv Bagla (37), Shankar Lal (40), Sukhjeet Singh (24), Ashish, Shetal Kakkar (29), Kiran Bala (25), and Tejinder Kaur (26), all from Fazilka. The other teachers killed in the accident were Ram Pal, Sanjeev Kumar, Bindia (30), Manohar Lal (42), all residents of nearby Abohar town, and Natasha (30) of Balluana, Nazam Singh (37) of Killianwali village in Abohar, besides Sonu, the jeep driver.
One of the deceased, Tejinder Kaur, was married only 13 days ago.
Fazilka SSP Narinder Bhargav said that a case was registered under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
Shops in Fazilka remained closed to mourn the deaths.
GOVT JOB FOR NEXT OF KIN
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal expressed condolences, while state education minister DS Cheema attended the cremation of the teachers.
Cheema asked the DPI (Schools), Punjab, to ensure all formalities to provide government jobs of a member of each of the victims within a week.
Fazilka deputy commissioner Isha Kalia said the district administration was ensuring there was no delay in completing the formalities.
Punjab minister Surjit Kumar Jyani, Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar, and SAD MP Sher Singh Ghubaya visited the Fazilka civil hospital and met families of the accident victims.