ACCIDENT WATCH: Street lamp leak kills Gangtok youth – electrocution or hit & run ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, July 2: A supervisor with Sikkim irrigation department was electrocuted last night when he stumbled on a lamppost which was leaking power at Panihouse.
The power department said the post along NH31A had been leaking 120 volts of electricity after it was apparently hit by a vehicle. But police are probing if the 35-year-old Dhruva Chettri’s death was a result of a hit-and-run accident.
Chettri — who was tasked with the supervision of construction work along streams in Sichey, Syari and Luing areas of Gangtok — is survived by his wife and a six-year-old son.
Prakash Subba, an assistant engineer with the power department, said the body had been lying near the post when he reached the spot around 1am. “Electricity was flowing through the post. The cover of the streetlight had been damaged totally and its fragments were strewn along the road. Some vehicle could have probably hit the post, breaking the light’s shield and dislocating the bulb holder,” he said.
“I measured the electricity and found that the post was leaking 120 volts of power, much less than the usual 220 volts,” added Subba.
The power officials said Chettri might have stumbled on the post and got the electric shock. “Although it cannot be said with certainty that 120 volts of electricity could kill an adult, we believe the current could have stayed in his body for sometime as he was wet because of rain,” said an official. He added that electricity flowed through the post as the dislocated bulb had come in touch with it.
Executive engineer Sunil Rai said the incident (the light being damaged) had most probably taken place after 7pm. “We had checked all the streetlights in that particular area by 7pm,” he said.
The power officials repaired the post this morning.
Friends and family members of the deceased could not explain immediately why Chettri had been walking along that particular stretch at Panihouse so late at night. His house is at Burtuk, which is some distance away from the mishap spot. A hotelier at Panihouse had first spotted Chettri’s body around 11pm.
Doctors who had conducted the post-mortem at STNM Hospital here, said electricity had flowed through Chettri’s right shoulder.
Gangtok Sadar police are investigating the circumstances, which led to Chettri’s death. “We do not rule out the possibility of a vehicle hitting Chettri and then speeding away. He might have then come in contact with the post. We are probing the case from that angle also,” said a source.
Homicide tag on driver takes buses off roads – shows the pent-up frustrations against the CPM’s absurd policies ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, July 2: More than 10,000 passengers were today caught unawares as bus owners called a sudden strike in Jalpaiguri district to protest the slapping of Section 304 on a rogue driver.
On Wednesday afternoon, a private bus collided with an auto-rickshaw at Damanpur killing five persons, including a three-year-old boy.
Nearly 5,000 passengers alone travel on the Jalpaiguri-Siliguri route every day. The 70 private buses on the route had been taken off today and so were the 20 buses on the Alipurduar-Siliguri route, affecting another 2,000 passengers. While few availed of the government buses, some travelled by train or covered a 40-km distance by jeep till Falakata before hiring other small vehicles to reach Siliguri and Jalpaiguri.
The Alipurduar-Jalpaiguri route has around 1,500 passengers and 20 buses were off the route. On the Cooch Behar-Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar-Siliguri routes, not less than 3,000 passengers were affected.
Last year, an expert committee the government had set up to look into the rise in road accidents had recommended that both Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and Section 304A (death due to negligence) be applied against killer drivers. The recommendation was that a rule be established to have both sections in place. However, the CPM-led government failed to implement the recommendation because of stiff resistance from the party’s labour arm, Citu.
Absence of a rule, however, cannot prevent the police from booking any driver on an individual basis. In this case, the Alipurduar police booked Ajay Kanti, the driver of the bus (WB-719073) under Section 304. He was produced in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate of Alipurduar yesterday and was remanded in jail custody for 14 days.
Bus workers have told the owners that since there was no “security” (from Benagl’s law) for them, they will rather “pull the rickshaw”.
Debobrata Sarkar, the secretary of Jalpaiguri Dooars Minibus Owners’ Association, said: “Yesterday, the staff of the buses, mainly drivers, came to me and said that they would pull rickshaw. No driver intentionally kills any person or any animal, but this case started with Section 304. Surprisingly the auto-rickshaw was carrying seven passengers while it is supposed to ferry only four at a time.”
Sarkar said the district administration was blind to the small illegal vehicles plying the national highway. “But we are sorry we could not inform the common people on time about the strike.”
“On every route, auto-rickshaws and jeeps always carry excess passengers. While an auto-rickshaw carries more than 10 passengers, jeep carries more than 20 but the administration is silent,” Sarkar said.
Reacting to the allegation, Anurag Srivastav, the subdivisional officer of Alipurduar, said: “We conduct frequent raids but we plan to increase the number to stop more illegal vehicles.”
Two youths, who had to reach Jalpaiguri 110km away, to attend the interview for recruitment of primary school teachers, said they were in a dilemma when they heard about the strike.
“Our interview was to start from 2pm in Jalpaiguri. I was surprised when I went to the bus stand in Alipurduar and came to know that private buses were not plying. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do. The government buses were so crowded. Then four of us who had been called for the interview hired a car. We reached Jalpaiguri just five minutes before the interview. We had to shell out Rs 1,500, ” said Chayan Majhi over the phone from Jalpaiguri. The bus fare from Alipurduar to Jalpaiguri is Rs 60.