Conductor clueless, owner says all documents intact
CM Eknath Shinde visited the accident spot and injured at the hospital
The private bus was carrying double the number of passengers than the bus capacity and permissible limits, the police said, even as the owner claimed all rules were followed.
Guddu Jaiswal, director of Chintamani Travels Pvt Ltd, which owns the private bus which caught fire after the head-on collision, claimed, “Early morning I got a call from the bus conductor, he was restless and kept on repeating that there is an accident, a mishap and a big one. He said that the bus halted by the roadside in Nasik for dropping passengers and he himself went to wake up those who were supposed to get off at that point. At that very moment, the collision took place hence, he himself is clueless about it.”
He added, “The fire might have been caused due to friction or a short circuit owing to the impact. We do not know anything as of now, it is still unclear. The incident is very unfortunate… but we have been running this bus service on this route for years now. We are extremely saddened and are trying to trace relatives of the victims on board.”
Jaiswal claimed all the documents of the bus were updated and that it had a fire extinguisher, and first aid box among other emergency requirements. “Our buses are always checked and maintenance is done before and after every trip. We are cooperating with the police.”
However, Jaiswal stressed that there were only 30 passengers on the bus, which was refuted by DCP Nashik Amol Tambe. The police officer told mid-day, “Yes, there were definitely more passengers on the bus than claimed which was more than its capacity. As per the initial list, there were 30 passengers; however, the list of dead and injured in the hospital and those discharged together sums up to 55 people. Currently, we have not found the driver of the truck; we are looking for him. The matter is under investigation right now. The injured were immediately shifted to the hospitals. An offence has been registered at the Adgaon Police station. ”
PM Narendra Modi also expressed anguish over the incident. In a Twitter post, he wished early recovery to the injured. Ex-gratia sum of Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund was announced for the next of kin of each of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
“We have identified 7 people named Ajay Kuchankar, 16, Shankar Kuchankar, 18, resident of Yavatmal, Uddhav Bhilang, 44, resident of Washim, Laxmibai Mudholkar, 50, Parvati Mudholkar, 45, and Kalyani Mudholkar, 3, resident of Buldhana, Sahil Chandrakar, 15, resident of Washim. We are waiting for relatives of the five deceased to identify the bodies. If they can’t identify [because of the burns], we might have to do DNA tests,” a Nashik government hospital official said. The assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to kin of the dead was announced by the state government and the injured will be treated free of charge.