While shops were shut to express solidarity with the victims’ family for their loss, a few locals vented their ire by pelting stones at the Malwani depot; a mob assaulted the bus driver
An uneasy calm prevailed throughout the day in Malwani after two minors were crushed to death by a BEST bus last afternoon. The incident occurred around 12.40 pm near Gate 6, while sisters Zeba (16) and Alfiya Qureshi (6) were returning home from Gate 7.
Cops guard the Malwani bus depot after angry locals pelted stones at it
The sisters were crossing the road when the bus knocked them down and dragged their bodies for a few metres before halting. Eyewitnesses said the locals immediately nabbed the driver and started thrashing him.
While Zeba (16) died on the spot, Alfiya (6) was declared dead on arrival at the Shatabdi Hospital
They said if not for the timely intervention by the Malwani police, the driver would have been dead. He was later identified as T N Thomas, who was driving bus no 459 — headed for Mulund from Gaikwad Nagar Depot — at the time of the mishap.
Locals block the road near Gate 6 where the mishap occurred
“The bus was speeding when it ran over the girls, who got caught in the right front wheel. While Zeba died on the spot, Alfiya was initially taken to the Malwani police station. From there, she was rushed to Shatabdi Hospital,” said an officer from Malwani police station.
He added that both the sisters were students of National English High School. While Zeba was a Std X student, Alfiya was in Std I. The officer said Zeba had failed to clear her SSC exam in one of the subjects and was preparing to reappear.
Simultaneously, she was teaching KG students at a residence near Gate 7 and her younger sister would often tag along. The mishap occurred while they were retuning to their residence near the Old Collector Compound.
While the Qureshis and their relatives claimed Thomas was drunk at the time of the mishap, an alcohol test on him at the Shatabdi hospital remained negative.
Hasan Khan Sabri, an eyewitness, said he and others were drinking tea at a shop located next to the accident spot. While Zeba died on the spot, Alfiya was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
As the deceased belonged to the Qureshi community, over 500 community members thronged the police station and demanded immediate action against Thomas. They even claimed that five to eight accidents occur every month in the area due to the encroachment of the road.
As tempers flew high, a few community members vented their ire by pelting stones at the Malwani bus depot, forcing it shut. Moreover, all the shops in the area remained shut throughout the day as owners expressed solidarity with the Qureshi family for their loss. A family friend said the girls would be buried at the Malwani Muslim Kabristan.
Speaking to mid-day, Senior Inspector Milind Khetle from Malwani police station said, “Sensing that the situation could turn volatile at the slightest provocation, heavy police presence was ensured in the area.
Moreover, we accepted the family’s demand of subjecting the driver to a second alcohol test at Cooper Hospital. Here too, the result was negative. This was done to cool down the mob.
The bus driver was arrested under Section 304-A (Causing death by negligence) and 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way) and other relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. BEST PRO Hanumant Gophane said, “It is unfortunate that people manhandled the driver. It is an accident and as per rules, an internal enquiry will be initiated against the driver.”
Cause of death
In his autopsy report, a forensic expert from Bhagwati hospital mentioned that the sisters died on the spot. Their death resulted from the head injuries and polytrauma they sustained during the accident.