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Mumbai: ‘How could I have alcohol if I knew I had to drive the car?’

Updated on: 24 May,2023 07:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma |

Driver of BMW involved in accident in which a woman lost her life claims he was not drunk and ill-designed speed breaker on road caused him to lose control of his vehicle

Mumbai: ‘How could I have alcohol if I knew I had to drive the car?’

The BMW that Adhvaryu Bandekar was driving

The 27-year-old drunk Merchant Navy sailor, whose over-speeding BMW car killed one of his companions in an accident during the pre-dawn hours of May 12 in Juhu, is yet to be arrested in the case, though he has been discharged from a hospital in Malad. On Tuesday, the sailor Adhvaryu Bandekar, and his mother Neha Bandekar, told mid-day the speed-breaker on the road led to the accident. The accused denied he was drunk at the time of the accident. The relatives of the deceased have said that had the driver not been drunk, he could have easily seen the speed breaker—which was hurriedly redesigned by civic officials after the accident.

Accused speak

“I was not drunk at all when the accident took place. I could not see the speed-breaker where my car jumped and met with an accident just outside Juhu police station,” Bandekar told mid-day. Four people including Bandekar, Pallabi Bhattacharya, Bharti Rai and Ankit Khare had gone to the high-end pub, Opa Bar & Cafe in Sakinaka, barely three hours before the accident.

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Pallabi Bhattacharya who died in the accident
Pallabi Bhattacharya who died in the accident

Asked what he had been doing at the pub in the middle of night, Bandekar said, “I did not drink that night. The rest of my friends had liquor… but how could I have alcohol if I knew that I had to drive the car?” He further added, “The speed-breaker was not proper and caused me to lose control over the vehicle.”

Though the FIR is registered against Bandekar under sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of Indian Penal Code, and section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act, the Juhu cops are yet to add the section 185 (drunk driving) under the MV Act.

Sources in the police department have told mid-day that the investigators are in the process of retrieving crucial details from the pub, and are waiting for the driver’s (Bandekar’s) blood sample report from the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL), Kalina.

A source in the traffic police said, “An e-challan was issued to the car owner on February 21 for causing danger and obstructions or undue inconvenience to other users of public place or to the passengers by allowing the vehicle to be abandoned or to remain at rest on the public place, as the car was improperly parked.”

“But the challan is yet to be paid by the car owner,” said a senior traffic police officer. mid-day has learnt that the Bandekar family, which lives in a posh housing society in Lokhandwala, Andheri west, owns three cars and the BMW was purchased last year on September 8.

‘Completely traumatised’

Bandekar’s mother Neha said she is a home-maker. “My husband is also in the merchant navy and he is not with us at present. We are completely traumatised after this accident. I feel sorry for the family which lost their girl, but try to understand that my son is also badly injured. He was hospitalized and now needs to undergo two surgeries as his right hand got fractured in the accident,” Neha told mid-day.

Asked what her son narrated about the accident, Neha said, “My son told me that he was not drunk when the accident took place. He was driving and lost control over the vehicle on the stretch near Juhu police station.” She added that she was informed by someone just after the accident, and immediately rushed to RN Cooper hospital where all the four occupants of the car were rushed for medical treatment.

Bhattacharya, who was declared brought dead to the hospital, had come to Mumbai just a week before the accident and had been staying at the Bandekars’ house in Lokhandwala. Sources have told mid-day that Bandekar and she had been seeing each other for the past one year and she was in town to get a tattoo removal surgery before taking up a fresh job as an air crew  member with an international airlines.

‘Political connection?’

Sandeep Chakraborty, the brother-in-law of Bhattacharya, told mid-day that the accused belongs to a well-off family and probably has a political connection. “It is the reason that the BMW driver has not been arrested. How can the cops not get the blood sample report in the past 12 days? Does it really take so much time?” he wondered.

“Adhvaryu is out of hospital. Why have Mumbai police failed to arrest him so far? He has been giving the silly excuse of an ill-designed speed breaker and dimly-lit road. How could a Second Navigating Officer in the merchant navy not judge the speed breaker? The fact is clear that he could not see the speed breaker because he was over-speeding in the high end car of his mother, and was inebriated,” Chakraborty told mid-day. The speed of the car was so high that the bonnet was fully damaged and all the airbags were inflated.

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