Hanshkhali, Nov. 28: 17 persons including 7 women and a 5 year’s child were crushed to death when a mini truck in which they were heading towards the Nabadwip burning ghat, had a head on collision with a lorry in Phulbari area of Hanskhali town late on Saturday midnight. Out of the 17 victims, 10 belonged to the same family, who died on the spot.
The vehicle had 32 passengers on board, who left for Nabadwip at about 11.30 pm from Parmadan of Bagda to perform the last rites of an elderly woman named Shib Rani Muhuri, 92 who died early in the evening.
The bizarre incident occurred at about 12.45 am near Shimultala of Phulbari on Bogula-Krishnagar road, when the mini truck rammed on a lorry laden with stone chips which was coming from the opposite direction. The stone chips lorry was heading to Bagda for a scheduled delivery.
President of India Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have expressed their deep condolences to the bereaved family members through tweets.
The President tweeted, “Distressing to learn about the loss of lives in Nadia, West Bengal. My deep sympathy goes to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured”.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced an ex gratia of Rs.2 lakhs each from the Prime Minister National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who lost their lives and Rs.50000 for the injured ones.
Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to a road accident in Nadia, West Bengal. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 28, 2021
Expressing her condolences, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a tweet said, “…..Government of West Bengal will extend every necessary assistance and support to. The kin of the victims. We are beside you in this sad hour”. The tweet followed an announcement of payment of an ex gratia of Rs.2 lakhs for the victims’ family members which will be paid by the district administrations.
Heartbroken to hear about the road accident in Nadia.
I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured.
May God give them the strength to get past this difficult time. (1/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 28, 2021
Local sources in Phulbari said that the people hearing a crushing sound came out of their homes and witnessed the horrible scene of the accident. They immediately informed the Hanshkhali police who rushed to the spot and took the victims to the Bogula primary health centre. But, the fatally injured passengers of the mini truck were soon transferred to Krishnanagar based Nadia district hospital, where 13 passengers were declared brought dead. 4 other passengers succumbed to their injuries later at the hospital.
Out of the 17 deceased persons all except 3 were residents of Parmadan of Bagda. The remaining trio were residents of Nadia’s Birnagar, Asannagar and Chakdah, who being relatives of the Muhuri family went to Parmadan to join the last rites.
Police have meanwhile begun a probe. But, it could not immediately ascertain the reason behind the accident apparently due to absence of any eye witness during to the late hours of the night.
Police have meanwhile detained the driver of the stone chips laden lorry for interrogation. The lorry was heading towards Bagda to deliver the consignment.
Superintendent of police, Ranaghat police district Sayak Das said, “We are trying to ascertain the possible reasons behind the accident. It is not clear right now how it occurred, but it appears that the mini truck was at a high speed “.
The sleuths, however, did not rule out the possibility of the consumption of alcohol by the mini truck driver Prasenjit Biswas, as alleged by some of the relatives of the victims. Family members of the victims alleged Prasenjit Biswas, 20, had consumed alcohol and he allegedly lost control over the vehicle while driving recklessly at a high speed in an inebriated state.
Senior police officials, however, refused to speak on the allegations. “We are waiting for the autopsy report of the driver before arriving at a conclusion about the reason for the accident. We are also trying to find out other possible reasons that could have led to the accident”, a senior police official in Krishnanagar said.
Some police officials of Ranaghat police district have also raised their concern as how the members of the Muhuri family accepted Prasenjit, as the driver since he had no license at all.
Swapan Muhuri, son of the demised woman, who was injured in the accident said, “Maa had wished for her last rites at Nabadwip ghat for which we decided took her there. We are going fine on the vehicle until a crushing jolt made me unconscious and later in the morning I found myself at Krishnagar hospital when some one told me that 10 of our family died in the accident”.
DIG of Police, Murshidabad range Sunil Kumar Chowdhary visited the spot of the accident on Sunday morning along with SP Sayak Das, when local residents alleged against police inaction against errant drivers and illegal parking of lorries on roadside that often led to accidents particularly during foggy winter nights.