Is Haji Ali road a killer stretch?
Nearly 200 residents of Rajiv Nagar society at Haji Ali stalled traffic yesterday, blaming traffic police for poor road safety that allegedly claimed a second life in 15 days
After an 18-year-old died while crossing the road at Haji Ali -- the second fatality in the last 15 days -- residents of the area took to the streets to protest the apathy of police toward commuter safety, stalling the flow of vehicles on the road yesterday.
They are aggrieved with having to witness a steady stream of casualties -- seven at last count over the past couple of weeks -- due to the non-operational traffic signal and absence of traffic monitoring on the road, they said, adding that the Tardeo traffic police are to be blamed for these accidents.
At 7.30 pm on October 30, Jilajit Yadav was hit by a car while crossing the road which connects to Haji Ali. He was rushed to Nair hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. After the news of his death spread, residents of Rajiv Nagar gathered at the hospital to take away his body.
About 150-200 residents staged a rasta roko in the night and the next morning for half an hour to protest the careless attitude of traffic cops. They also tried to stop the flow of vehicles on the road.
Residents said that Jilajit belonged to a family of modest means. The youngest of four brothers, he was a fruit seller and attended school at night; his father owns a bhel puri stall at Breach Candy.
Tragic end: Jilajit Yadav (top) died while crossing the road at Haji Ali on
October 30, when he was struck by a car. A couple of weeks ago, Muskaan
Sheikh (above), was also hit by a car and fractured her arm in three places.
She missed four of her exam papers owing to the mishap. Pics/ Bipin Kokate
Neetu Gupta, a resident of Rajiv Nagar, vented her anger, saying, "In the last 15 days, there have been seven accidents, and two people have died. Today we have gathered to protest the negligence of Tardeo traffic police. For the last two years, the signal on this road has not been working. I had given a letter signed by Rajiv Nagar residents to S S Bangale, traffic police inspector of Tardeo station, and he had promised to fix the signal. But two days after it was repaired, it broke down again. Now, he is giving us excuses of staff shortage. After Jilajit's incident, he has not even visited the spot."
Meanwhile, the Tardeo traffic police were busy putting up a new signal last afternoon.
A similar incident had happened on October 18, when Muskaan Sheikh (13), while returning home with her father, was hit by a car. The signal was out of order and traffic cops were missing from duty even then, her kin said.
Her cousin Richard Barretto said, "Muskaan has missed four exams because she couldn't write; her right forearm broke in three places. Surgery cost around Rs 85,000. Her hand would be in a cast for three more months. She is going through a lot of pain."
Richard added, "When I saw Jilajit's body, I was shocked. I could not imagine that happening to my sister. I thank God she survived, but I can feel the pain of Jilajit's family. This very road right from Haji Ali junction to Worli had 100 cops when President Pratibha Patil visited the city but when our people suffer, there is not a single policeman."
Residents drove out a former NCP corporator who came to join the protest. The residents thought that she was trying to juice the situation for political mileage and drove her away.
Pushpa Hariyan, resident of Rajiv Nagar, said, "We want this agitation against Tardeo traffic police to be our own cause. The rasta roko was voluntary and we don't want interference from any political party."