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Uttarakhand bus tragedy: One who lived to tell the tale won’t board a bus anytime soon

Deepak Sondhi felt uneasy and got down 7 kms ahead of the spot where the accident took place

dehradun Updated: Jul 03, 2018 22:01 IST
Kalyan Das
Kalyan Das
Hindustan Times, Pauri Garhwal
Uttarakhand Bus Tragedy,Bus accident,Pauri bus mishap
Deepak Sondhi hasn’t been able to sleep properly.(Kalyan Das/HT)

The television at Deepak Sondhi’s house is lying defunct for the last few days and won’t be repaired anytime soon. It’s not that Sondhi can’t take it to a mechanic. It’s just that the 33-year-old doesn’t want to board a bus — the best means of transportation — with the TV and take it to Nainadanda.

As things stand, Sondhi possibly wouldn’t board any bus in a long time to come. The resident of Apola village in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district was one of the passengers of a private bus that fell into fell into a 100-metre deep gorge in Sunday morning killing 48 people.

Call it intuition or sheer luck, Sondhi deboarded the bus midway through his journey to Nainadanda and just seven kilometres ahead of the spot where the accident took place.

The defunct TV in tow, he hailed another ride and returned to the grocers’ shop he runs at his village. It was only when the local postman called on his cellphone that he got to know about the tragedy near Gween village, close to Dhumakot.

The postman’s daughter too had boarded the same bus. She died in the accident.

It being a Sunday, Sondhi had decided to get the TV repaired.

“My TV set was not working for the last few days. So on Sunday, I decided to take it to Nainadanda to get it repaired. I procured the ticked for Nainadanda and took a seat in the bus. Soon as it started for Ramnagar, I started feeling uneasy about undertaking the journey. The bus was full. As the uneasiness kept growing, I finally asked the driver to stop the bus at Bhouni, 38 km before my destination, and got down,” says Sondhi.

After alighting from the bus, Sondhi returned to his shop. “I came to know about the accident only after the village’s postman whose daughter was also in the bus called and asked about my location. When I told him that I was back at the shop, he broke down and informed me about the tragedy. I went numb.”

Sondhi says he was too shocked at the time to react. “So many lives lost...I may not have known most of them, but I had shared seat with them. There were kids in the bus. Some of the passengers were talking about their future plans…little did they know and little did I know that it would end so soon,” he reminisced.

Sondhi gets goosebumps recalling the journey he didn’t proceed with. “I believe the uneasiness I felt was a divine message. It saved me…’” he trails off.

He couldn’t sleep thinking about the accident. Though the exact cause of the accident is not yet known, it is being speculated that the driver lost control of the bus while negotiating a waterlogged pothole. The impact of the plunge was so forceful that the upper part of the bus separated exposing the seats. The bus with seating capacity of 28 had 60 people on board.

Sondhi says he doesn’t see himself taking a bus to any place any time soon. “Let the TV remain un-repaired at home,” he adds.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 22:01 IST