Haryana: Blatant lapses led to school bus crash in Mahendergarh - Hindustan Times
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Haryana: Blatant lapses led to school bus crash in Mahendergarh

By, Chandigarh
Apr 13, 2024 04:48 PM IST

Six students died in the mishap while many were injured. Here are the five reasons which led to the unfortunate incident

A drunk driver at the wheel and complete disregard for the roadworthiness of the vehicle were just the ingredients that made Thursday’s crash of a private school bus in Haryana’s Mahendergarh district a tragedy waiting to happen. Six students died in the mishap while many were injured. Here are the five reasons which led to the unfortunate incident:

Mahendragarh, April 11: Six schoolchildren were killed and several others injured after the bus they were travelling in overturned near Unhani village in Kanina sub-division here at Mahendragarh district on April 11 (HT Photo/Manoj Dhaka)
Mahendragarh, April 11: Six schoolchildren were killed and several others injured after the bus they were travelling in overturned near Unhani village in Kanina sub-division here at Mahendragarh district on April 11 (HT Photo/Manoj Dhaka)

Drunk driver, high speed

The first information report (FIR) registered at Kanina city police station brings out that the bus driver, identified as Dharmender, an accused in the FIR, was in an inebriated state and did not heed the repeated requests of the school children not to drive the bus too fast. Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act which pertained to driving by a drunk person has been invoked in the FIR. In fact, the accused school bus driver browbeat the students and disregarded their pleas for slowing down, the FIR said.

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Callous school authorities

The complainant, a 17-year-old girl student, Anuj of Kharkara Bass village in Mahendergarh, told police that the parents of students from Kheri Talwana, a village en route, came to know that the driver was drunk and snatched the vehicle keys from him. “When they spoke to the school administration about the safety of their children due to a drunk driver at the wheel, the school administration asked the parents to return the vehicle keys to the driver, or else face the consequences. Intimidated by the threat, the parents handed over the keys back to the driver,’’ the FIR said. The driver has been booked for rash and negligent driving endangering human lives, culpable homicide and endangering the life and personal safety of students.

No fitness certificate

The school bus was plying without a fitness certificate. Transport officials said the school bus bearing registration number HR 66-A 7514 was also challaned by the district transport officer on March 13, 2023 for plying without a fitness certificate, without payment of tax and without affixing a high-security registration plate. A penalty of 15,500 was imposed, officials said.

School open on gazetted holiday

Despite a gazetted holiday in the state on account of Id-ul-Fitr, the private school was open. Bhiwani Mahendergarh MP Dharambir Singh on Friday questioned why the district education officer (DEO), who is responsible for ensuring the closure of educational institutions on a gazetted holiday failed to do so. The tragedy could have been averted if the private school was closed on Thursday.

No attendant inside the bus

The school bus, as per the FIR, did not have a male or female attendant to look after the safety of the children. The courts have on several occasions ordered that trained male and female attendants who can handle children and ensure their safety needs to be on board school buses.

While transport commissioner Yashendra Singh ordered the suspension of an assistant secretary in the office of district transport officer, Mahendergarh, for his failure to control vehicles, including the ill-fated school bus from plying on the road without valid documents. The incident raises questions about the arbitrary manner in which a large of private schools, particularly those in the far-flung areas of the state operate.

“This particular school bus was plying without a fitness certificate. The district transport officer (DTO) challaned it in March 2023. However, there was no follow-up by the DTO. The bus should have been impounded as the school administration seems to be a perpetual violator,’’ said an official posted in a district.

A senior official in Chandigarh said local administration goes soft as most of the private school buses are used by the ruling dispensation for carrying crowds to political events, public meetings, etc.

“The private school buses are requisitioned unofficially most of the time, which means no one pays for the ride. So, the state administration remains rather soft towards the violations committed by the private schools. It is a trade-off. Also, many of the private schools that have mushroomed across the state are owned by influential persons or have the patronage of politicians. This school is also owned by the former chairman of Kanina municipal council, Rajender Singh Lodha,” the official explained.

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