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‘Most close-knit, helpful group ever’: Friends remember Honda City crash victims

All seven students in Punjabi Bagh flyover accident were first-year BBA students at Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research located in Rohini. Stuffed into a five-seater Honda City car, the students were headed to Narela to write the Business Organisation paper.

delhi Updated: May 25, 2017 14:38 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times
Honda City,Honda City accident,Honda City Delhi
Deceased Ritu Singh’s best friend Sakshi during a condolence meeting at their college in Rohini in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Sakshi was about to step into the classroom to take her semester-end exam on Monday morning when one of her friends broke the news of the Punjabi Bagh accident involving her seven classmates. Her best friend, 19-year-old Ritu Singh, was supposed to be in that ill-fated Honda City car.

With a sinking feeling in their hearts, Sakshi and her friends entered the examination hall. They did not want to sit through the three-hour long exam when they were uncertain about the fate of their classmates and friends.

“I knew all the answers, but I did not want to write a word. Some of us handed our examination sheets within an hour. But the invigilators wouldn’t let us off before 90 minutes. Those 30 minutes (after finishing the paper) were the longest of my life,” Sakshi told HT on Tuesday, a day after the Honda City flew off a flyover, killing four students and critically injuring three.

The moment the students were allowed to leave the examination hall, their teachers waited outside to break the tragic news of two deaths. More than 60 students immediately raced to different hospitals to donate blood or help in any way possible. “The seven of them were the most close-knit and helpful group we have ever seen. We wanted to do our bit to return the help,” said Raghav Bansal, one of the classmates.

All the seven students were first-year BBA students at Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research located in Rohini Sector 25. Stuffed into a five-seater Honda City car, the students were headed to Narela to take the Business Organisation paper, the first in their semester-end exam.

Singh and Sanchit Chhabra were killed on the spot. Rajat Sharma, the car owner and the man behind the wheel, died during treatment later on Monday. Garima Gupta, who was sitting next to Singh on the front seat, succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday.

“When I fell ill recently, Sanchit called me a number of times in a day to enquire about my well-being. But I regret scolding Ritu recently for wearing heels and warning her that I would never see her if she wore that footwear again. I did not know she would leave me forever,” said an inconsolable Sakshi.

The mother and relatives of Garima Gupta at her residence in west Delhi’s Inderpuri on Tuesday. ( Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO )

The students had known each other only since last August, but the seven had bonded quickly. They were friendly with all classmates and teachers. Their teachers remember them as a group of “mischievous but innocent” children who knew their limits.

“They paid attention to their studies and knew how to respect their teachers. I don’t know how I will visit the class without those four students when the college reopens on August 1,” said Manisha Sharma, their class coordinator, as she comforted the weeping students even as she failed to control her own tears during a condolence meeting at the college on Tuesday.

Despite exams staring them in the face over the next few days, more than 100 students visited the college on Tuesday to pay condolences to the dead and pray for the recovery of the three others, Rishabh Mavi, Pranav Malik and Raja Rastogi, who are battling for their lives.

But even in the tragedy, the classmates of the deceased were in awe of the supreme sacrifices made by three of them even in their death. The parents of Ritu, Sanchit and Garima donated their eyes, making sure a few visually-challenged people will be able to see again.

“They brought joy to our lives when they were alive. In their death, they brought joy to others and have inspired us. Many of us will pledge to donate our organs once we recover from this tragedy,” said Komal, Garima’s best friend.

Ravinder Vinayak, the college director, said he would organise a camp to spread awareness about organ donation among students and parents.

While shock and grief prevailed at the college and the homes of the dead, several students were angry about the obscure locations of the examination centres and the lack of ample public transport to those places.

“Seven students had to stuff themselves in one car because cabs refused to travel to a place like Narela. Rajat had to return midway to pick up Ritu and Garima from their homes as they couldn’t find cabs to such a far-off location. We have been forced to make special arrangements just to travel to the examination centres,” said Komal.

The parents of some of the children demanded that the rest of the semester exams be postponed because of the tragedy. “How do you expect children to attend exams when seven of their classmates have been involved in such a tragedy? Some of them have not eaten a morsel since they heard the news, they surely are not in a position to study,” said Parul Garg, mother to one of the classmates of the victims.

First Published: May 17, 2017 10:21 IST