9-yr-old leans out of school bus, smashes head against hoarding

Viraj Parmar was waving goodbye to a friend, when the vehicle started moving, causing the boy's head to ram into signpost; bled to death within minutes

Waving goodbye to a friend proved fatal for nine-year old Viraj Devendra Parmar, student of Shri Vallabh Ashram English Medium School in Sion. Viraj was killed when his head banged against a public hoarding, as he was leaning out of his school bus window to say goodbye to a friend.

Final goodbye: Viraj Parmar bled to death within minutes of smashing
against the hoarding(below) when he was leaning out of the gap in the
rails of the school bus (circled); his family and other parents have raised
questions about the condition of the bus. Pics/ Sudhakar Nadar

The driver of the school bus, which was hired by the school on contract basis, is absconding. An angry mob of witnesses, however, managed to nab Prajapati, the bus cleaner, and hand him over to the local police.

The last goodbye

The incident took place last morning. After school, Viraj boarded his bus and occupied a seat in the last row, for a ride home. Moments after settling down, the boy realised that he hadn't bid goodbye to his friend, who was waiting at the gate. He leaned out of the bus to wave. The bus started moving at that very moment, and before he could retreat, Viraj's head was smashed against a hoarding stuck to a streetlight pole. "Little did he know that this would be his last goodbye. Blood was oozing out of both his ears.  It was too late for the people to even rush him to hospital," said Viraj's father Devendra (34).

Cops said that witnesses and teachers present rushed to help Viraj, but all their efforts to revive him failed. Amidst the ensuing chaos, the driver of the school bus, fled from the spot. Parents of other students, who had arrived to pick their kids from the gate, caught hold of the cleaner and handed him over to the school authorities.

'School responded strangely'
"The school authorities responded to the incident in a strange way. Initially, the trustee of the school called us, saying that they had detained both driver and cleaner. Surprisingly, when we reached the spot, we only found the cleaner, who was later handed over to the police," said Viraj's uncle Ritesh Parmar. Viraj's family has demanded that the cops undertake a full-fledged enquiry and nab the responsible person.

A tearful Devendra added, "He was my only son, and I want justice. I want someone to claim responsibility for the incident."

Assistant Commissioner of Police R Rupwate said, "We are investigating all the aspects of this case. School authorities have also been questioned. The driver of the school bus has been booked under Section 304 (A) of the IPC, for causing death by negligence, and Section 279, for rash driving. We are also trying to find out if the hoarding, which had an advertisement of Vijay's Institute, was legal or not."

API SP Salvi said, "At around 1 pm, the bus was parked on the road. The lightpost with the hoarding was to the left of the bus. The driver was concentrating on the right side of the road as he pulled out of the curb. He did not attend to what was happening to the left side of the bus, and neither did the bus cleaner."

Avin Tharani, Head of department, Mathematics, in Vijay's Institute said, "We have put up all these hoardings through an ad agency, and they have all been permitted by the BMC."

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