Mystery cop told driver to flee after bus hit 60-yr-old
After BEST driver almost ran over Pandurang Sawant at Dadar, a cop sitting in the bus encouraged the driver to make a run for it, saying "Don't worry, I am there". While the driver was arrested, thanks to a heroic chase by four men, the constable made a quiet escape
Cops have been panned for their lack of concern for commoners but a constable yesterday betrayed an over-sympathetic attitude, even if toward a hit-and-run accused.
A BEST driver knocked down a 60-year-old at Dadar yesterday and as motorists often do tried to run away. Oddly, the driver was encouraged in his bid to abscond by a passenger in the bus, a police constable no less. But four people chased the bus till Nagpada and before they finally nabbed the driver and turned him in to the police, the constable got down and ran away himself.
Around 10 am on Wednesday, Pandurang Daji Sawant, who works for Sandesh Mohite of the Republican Party of India (A), was washing Mohite’s car outside his office at Govindji Keni Road, Hindmata, Dadar (E) when a BEST bus came reeling toward him after smashing three cars parked by the side of the road.
“The bus bashed a Honda Accent, a Hyundai i20 and a Maruti Swift. Before I could do anything, its front bumper hit my left leg,” said Sawant, 60, a resident of Kalyan. While Sawant was flung away by the impact, the driver made a dash for it to escape mob justice.
A chase sequence
Said an eyewitness Rohan More, a resident in the building where Sawant works, “I saw that some people sitting in the bus, including a police constable, told the driver to speed. I immediately informed his employer Mohite about it.” More said he heard the policeman tell the driver to make a dash for it after saying, ‘Don’t worry, I am there.’
More and Mohite asked their colleagues to take Sawant to the nearby KEM hospital while they got in a car with two others to give chase to the bus. More had seen the bus’s route - 67, Antop Hill to Walkeshwar - and the foursome managed to catch up with the vehicle at Nagpada.
“The driver was speeding, jumping signals and bus stops to escape,” said Sandesh Mohite. “We managed to intercept him at Nagpada Junction near Sagar hotel but he kept trying to get away. So we informed the Nagpada police who took the bus driver in custody. He was then handed over to the Bhoiwada police in whose jurisdiction the accident took place.”
The Bhoiwada police booked the driver, identified as Anil Gholap, in his mid-thirties, for rash and negligent driving under section 279 of the Indian Penal Code. He will be produced in court on Thursday.
As for the cop who encouraged the driver to put the pedal to the metal, he managed to get away. “We tried our best to trace the police constable who told Gholap to speed after the accident. But he leapt off the bus as it slowed down when he saw us trailing it,” said More.
“Sawant suffered two fractures, one on his hip and another on his left leg. He will be operated soon,” said Mohite. Following the incident, residents of Govindji Keni Road are demanding that BEST buses be barred from passing through the lane, a narrow stretch with parked cars almost clogging it.
On collision course every now and then
City’s recent past is tinted with cases of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) drivers running over pedestrians or striking them down.
>> Dec 5, 2012: A BEST bus driver, ferrying schoolchildren in a private bus, crushes a 6-yr-old in Kandivli (W) when the child was crossing the road with his mother
>> Oct 8, 2012: In an attempt to take a U-turn, a bus mows down 3-yr-old Nilesh Saroj, as he was walking down Film City Road with his mother
>> Jun 25, 2012: A bus kills 25-yr-old Salim Ansari, after taking a sharp turn in Mulund (W) and hitting the biker sideways, leading to the two-wheeler to skid under it
>> Jun 3, 2012: A BEST bus runs over 22-yr-old Leon Pascal Rodrigues in Marve who succumbed to his head injuries
>> Apr 6, 2012: A double-decker turns turtle while speeding at Kalanagar, crushing a motorcyclist and injuring over 12 passengers and passers-by