BHOPAL: A day after an overcrowded private bus plunged into a canal in Madhya Pradesh’s Sidhi district and killed at least 51 persons, what caused the tragedy remains a mystery.While primary probe suggests human error, the arrested bus driver claims there was an abnormal sound in the bus, after which it automatically sped into the canal.
Balendu Vishwakarma, who was arrested from Satna district, said: “Before I could understand what happened, the bus powered into the canal. A girl got out of the bus in the water and I followed her. Villagers took us out of the canal using ropes. Had I remained at the spot, I would have been lynched. I had no option, but to flee,” Balendu said.
According to the state’s deputy transport commissioner AK Singh, who is in Sidhi to probe the mishap, the probe has just begun. “Initial findings and that the bus was overcrowded suggests that prima facie the bus driver was at fault,” he said
However, families of the victims feel long traffic jams on the Sidhi-Satna route could also be the reason. “Since four-five days, there was traffic jam, which forced the driver to take another route. Had the jam been cleared, the bus wouldn’t have run on the alternate route and the mishap might not have happened,” said Anil Kumar Gupta, who lost his wife Pinky and toddler son Atharwa in the tragedy. The Gupta family told the same to MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who visited their house on Wednesday.
“Please ensure that the jam on Chhuiya Ghati, which has been a regular feature for years, is permanently addressed and no future tragedy takes place due to it,” the bereaved family appealed to the chief minister.
State Congress president Kamal Nath blamed it on the state government’s negligence. “Buses lugging people like animals are running sans equipment like speed governors, but no checking & penalising is happening,” he tweeted.