A two-year-old boy was crushed to death allegedly by the driver of a private school bus at Rithoj Dhani village in Bhondsi, Gurugram, on Thursday morning. The bus had arrived to pick up the victim’s four-year-old elder sister and three-year-old brother from near their house.
The victim, Aryan Khatana, nicknamed Arjun, was out playing outside the house while his mother was busy helping his siblings board the bus, police said. Both are students of Vivek Model School, Vatika Kunj. The driver and conductor of the bus were arrested even as the school authority denied their involvement.
The school is barely 2km from the village. Rohit Khatana, the father of the siblings, is a farmer and runs a dairy in the village.
The family members said that it was 20 minutes after the bus left that they spotted the two-year-old lying on the road in a pool of blood. They said they rushed him to a private hospital where he was declared dead.
Ankit Khatana, the victim’s uncle, said that his sister-in-law Priyanka Khatana was helping the two-year-old’s siblings board the bus when the incident took place.
He said the bus picks up the siblings from a lane in front of their house. “As the bus left, my sister-in-law walked back to the house. She wasn’t aware that Arjun was playing outside. It was her husband who spotted my nephew lying bloodied on the lane and shouted for help. We rushed him to a private hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival,” the two-year-old’s uncle, who lodged a complaint with the police, said.
“The school bus returned to the area after 20 minutes to pick up some more children from our neighbourhood. This time, some neighbours caught hold of the driver and the conductor as they tried to flee,” the victim’s uncle said.
“Family members and some neighbours have alleged that the boy was playing near the bus in the morning. They said the driver couldn’t spot him. They said the bus crushed him to death,” Umesh Kumar, inspector, Bhondsi police station, said.
Some villagers allegedly vandalised the bus and roughed up the driver and conductor before the police could arrive at the scene. The duo was arrested. Later, a case was registered against them under sections 279 (rash driving) and 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
The villagers allegedly erupted in protest outside the school and demanded action against the school authorities. They left the scene after the police assured a fair and impartial probe in the case.
The school bus was impounded by the police and it is currently parked on the premises of Bhondsi police station.
The school authorities denied the allegation, saying it was possible that the boy had come under the wheels of some other bus, as more than 10 school buses ply on the lane on any given day.
“We are saddened by the boy’s death. However, we doubt if it’s possible that the school bus ran over a child and no one heard his screams. If the driver was at fault, why did he return to the scene of the incident? There are no blood stains on the bus’s tyres and neither are there any eyewitnesses to the incident. Even the students sitting inside the bus aren’t aware of this incident,” Jatin Adlakha, director of the school, said.
“We have outsourced our transport service to a private transport operator. Dharmender, who is in charge of our transport services, is absconding since we learned about the incident.”
Bhondsi police said that the boy’s head was crushed under a wheel. Officers said that an investigation is on and they were questioning the driver and conductor.
Police said when they arrived at the school to check the documents of the driver and conductor, the authorities couldn’t produce the necessary papers.
The driver was identified as Om Prakash , 25, a resident of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, and the conductor was identified as Rajesh Kumar. Police said they are related and had been in this occupation for the last one-and-a-half years.
The victim’s body was handed over to his family after an autopsy on Thursday afternoon. The last rites were conducted at the village around 3.15pm, the victim’s uncle said.
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