Abrar's Death in Road Crash: Conductor, not driver, was at the wheel
The bus that ran over and killed university student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury on March 19 was being driven by its conductor, police said yesterday, in a shift from their earlier statement that the driver was at the wheel.
Earlier that day, passengers caught the driver and handed him over to police after the vehicle had hit and injured a college girl, said Abdul Baten, additional commissioner of Detective Branch (DB) of Police.
Abrar was killed when conductor Yasin Arafat, as instructed by the bus owner, was steering the vehicle, Baten said at a briefing at the DMP media centre, following the arrest of Yasin and the driver's helper Mohammad Ibrahim.
Police said the bus started from Sadarghat area around 5:45am that day. As it reached near Banshtala area of Shahjadpur, it hit Synthia Islam Mukta, 20, a student of Mirpur Ideal Girls' Laboratory Institute.
Later, the vehicle was parked by a road there. Yasin called Nani Gopal, the owner of the Suprobhat Paribahan bus, and informed him about the detention of the driver, Sirajul Islam, 24.
He also said agitated locals might torch the bus. At this, Nani instructed Yasin to take it to a safer place, Baten said, adding that Yasin ran over and killed Abrar, a first-year honours student at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), near the Bashundhara Residential Area around 7:30am, while driving recklessly to flee the spot of the first accident.
Yasin had no driving licence, he added.
He was held in Chandpur on Tuesday while helper Ibrahim was detained in the capital's Madhya Badda yesterday. A Dhaka court placed each of them on a seven-day remand yesterday.
After Abrar's death, a case was filed. The additional commissioner yesterday said another case would be filed over the accident of Synthia, who lives with her family in Bhatara area.
Earlier, police had said Sirajul had run over the BUP student after hitting the college student. Yesterday, they came up with the new development.
During primary interrogation, Sirajul admitted hitting the girl on March 19 and that made police believe that he might have also run over and killed Abrar.
“But further investigation revealed that the conductor was at the wheel when Abrar died,” Baten said.
Queried on the bus owner Nani Gopal, another accused in the case, police said they would soon take action in this regard.
Baten hopes to submit the probe report within a month.
The Daily Star has obtained CCTV footage of the accident that left Abrar dead on the spot.
The footage shows the bus hitting and dragging the 20-year-old near a zebra crossing on the Pragati Sarani Road.
According to witnesses, there are two zebra crossings within 10 to 15 yards of the spot.
The incident triggered a public outcry with agitated students blocking some major thoroughfares of the city for safe roads.
Similar student protests had rocked the country in July last year, after two college students were killed near the airport by a Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan bus, which was competing with another.
Under pressure from road safety protesters, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on March 20 suspended operation of all the buses of the two operators -- Suprobhat Paribahan and Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan.
At a programme recently, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said the bus that killed Abrar faced legal actions 27 times and was not allowed to ply city roads, rather it had permission to ply Dhaka-Brahmanbaria road.
Following a meeting with Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam and the DMP boss on March 20, a section of BUP students postponed their demonstrations till today, upon assurances that their demands would be fulfilled.
The DNCC mayor is scheduled to meet student leaders today at his office. A press briefing would be held later.