Reckless driving takes two young lives
During a mad race between two buses for passengers, one of the drivers slammed on the brakes near the ramp of the Airport Road flyover adjacent to the Armed Forces Medical College in Kurmitola.
While some people, mostly students, were about to get on the vehicle, the second bus came and ploughed into the crowd.
The result: the loss of two young lives.
To the horror of passersby, two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed on the spot. At least nine others were injured after being hit or run over.
Immediately after the incident around 12:30pm yesterday, students of the college went on a rampage, vandalising over 100 vehicles on the busy street in the capital.
The dead were identified as Abdul Karim alias Rajib Uddin, 18, a student of class-XII, and Dia Khanam Mim, 17, an 11th grader.
The incident happened when some people, including at least 15 students, were waiting to board a bus to go home, said witnesses and other students.
Passengers of the buses said the vehicles raced against each other on the flyover and one of them got down the ramp first.
"Coming down from the flyover when our bus [Dhaka Metro Ba-11-7657] stopped, the other bus [Dhaka Metro Ba-11-9297] sped past the left side of our bus and ploughed into the passengers,” said Zulmat Ali, one of the passengers.
The bus scraped against the boundary wall of the Armed Forces Medical College and stopped after crashing into a roadside tree.
Immediately after that, a boy was seen hanging between the bus, the tree and the wall while two other students were seen lying on the ground, bleeding profusely, said another passenger.
Sandals, bags and umbrellas of the victims were lying scattered.
Two of the injured died on the spot. Another critically injured student was taken to hospital, said witnesses. The identity of the injured could not be confirmed immediately.
Kabir Hossain Hawlader, inspector (investigation) of Cantonment Police Station, gave a similar version of the incident.
Besides, Zulmat, a trader, said, “After the incident, the gate of our bus was blocked by the other bus. We could get down only after our bus was moved some inches ahead.”
The passengers of the bus that ran over the students came out through the windows, said the witnesses, adding that the locals caught the driver, beat him up and handed him over to police.
Inspector Kabir, however, said the driver was not in their custody.
The driver of the other bus also managed to flee from the scene. Both the buses were of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan.
Soon after the incident, some pedestrians along with bikers rushed the victims to the emergency unit of the nearby Kurmitola General Hospital.
Kamrul Haque, a witness who was on his way to Uttara on a motorcycle, said, "As I rushed to the spot, I found a boy and a girl dead. I saw six students groaning in excruciating pain being stuck under the bus.
"Many of them were bleeding. Some of them were screaming for help,” he added.
The Kurmitola hospital was wrapped in a pall of gloom. Family members and classmates of the deceased kept weeping.
Mehraj, a cousin of deceased Karim, said Karim's father died long ago. Karim's mother lives in their village home in Noakhali's Hatiya.
Third among four siblings, Karim used to live with Mehraj's family in Ashkona area. His younger brother, a sixth grader, lives with their maternal uncle.
"The family is not solvent. Relatives bear the educational expenses of the two brothers” said Mehraj.
Karim wanted to study and be an army officer. He wanted to change the condition of his family. He even had applied to get into the army, he said.
Mim's father Jahangir Fakir, who himself is a driver, said, "My daughter dreamt to be a banker ... We tried our best to help her fulfil her dream. But all our hopes have shattered.
"I demand strict punishment of the culprit driver and those who hire people like them,” he said.
Leaders of transport owners and workers blame the unhealthy competition among buses for passengers as one of the main reasons for frequent accidents in the capital.
They say due to the reduction in number of trips following severe traffic congestion in the city, many bus owners often rent out their vehicles to the drivers who indulge in reckless driving just to maximise profit by operating as many trips as possible.
Yesterday's incident happened some five minutes after classes ended for the day at Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College.
As the news of the incident spread, several hundred students of the college rushed to the spot and blocked the road.
The protesters torched a bus of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan and vandalised over other 100 vehicles, mostly public minibuses, with sticks and iron rods at different places. They also threw brick chips at vehicles.
The students kept the road blocked for nearly two hours, leading to traffic congestion and causing immense public suffering.
A huge number of people were seen walking to their destination as traffic came to a halt.
Police brought the situation under control around 2:15pm.
Sachin Mallik, assistant commissioner (traffic) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), said the protesters vandalised over 50 buses in the area. He claimed that some of the vehicles could pass the area with the help of law enforcers during the protest.
Broken pieces of glasses of the vehicles were seen lying strewn on a long stretch of the road up to Kuril-Bishwaroad intersection and parts of the flyover too.
Many vehicles, including cars, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, and pick-up vans were seen parked on the road.
The agitating students said the spot where the incident took yesterday was prone to accidents and accidents happened there frequently due to reckless driving.
"But we don't see any remedy as people's life continue to perish," shouted a group of students.
Saying drivers do not even hesitate to race on the flyover slope, the protesters termed yesterday incident “murder” and demanded immediate and exemplary punishment of the drivers.
Process was underway for the filing of a case over the incident, said Inspector Kabir.