BENGALURU: As another year goes by for my family, we face perhaps the most difficult month in our year since September 9, 2014, when our lives took a devastating turn. Our daughter Arundhati died that day in an accident on a narrow dirty road in Vellore. The question of how the accident happened is still unanswered and that has affected our lives as much as the fact of her death.
This is an excerpt from a Facebook post of a mother who found no other way of venting her grief, anger and frustration. It has been four years since Dr Sanjay Tambwekar and Dr Shubhangi Tambwekar’s daughter, Arundhati, a postgraduate student at Christian Medical College in Vellore, was killed on her way to college after coming under the wheels of a truck. Arundhati, who was pillion riding on the bike, was wearing a helmet as per safety norms.
To this day, Sanjay and Shubhangi have a sketchy idea of the details of the accident, even though the couple filed two RTIs with the government of Tamil Nadu. But like Shubhangi says, “The grief and shock is so profound that I think, like us, many victims do not have the strength — either physical or emotional — to pursue their case.”
Talking about the use of Section 304 A of the IPC, which classifies death in an accident as ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’, Shubhagi says, “Frankly, I do not know how many people are actually
punished this way. The loopholes in this allows the guilty to get away. The government machinery should function in a smooth and systematic fashion to deliver justice to victims and punish those found guilty or negligent. This should be done to ensure that there’s a sense of responsibility and accountability on the part of every driver. It is because of the lack of effective mechanisms that this country has the highest number of deaths in accidents and the least number of punishments.”
Birth of Arundhati Foundation
After the accident, the couple blamed themselves and felt like they did not do enough to protect their daughter. Shubhangi says, “We were not comfortable with her on two-wheelers given the state of traffic and roads in Vellore. We should have done something. We have since kept visiting that day every day...’ If only...’ is what we keep saying.”
After looking around for similar stories so they could find solace with others who had undergone such a loss, they found that nobody likes to talk about it. That is when they decided not to be meek spectators and instead try and bring about awareness on road safety.
“We could not save our daughter, but maybe, if people listened to our story, they would pay more attention to this topic and their loved ones could be safe. We wanted to keep our daughter’s memory alive not just in thoughts, but deeds too. And that is how we started The Arundhati Foundation within three months of her death,” says Shubhangi.