Returning home after a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi in Jammu, seven members of two families — four women and three children — from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, died as a bus crushed them while they were sleeping on the pavement on Friday at Narora, a riverside town in Bulandshahr district.
The bus, carrying pilgrims returning from Haridwar, has been impounded while its driver is absconding, the police said.
Bulandshahr Senior Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh said, “We received information that a bus with Aligarh registration had run over pilgrims in Narora around 4 am. The women and children were sleeping on the pavement. The bus came from Sambal area, allegedly at great speed, and ran over them.”
A case of rash driving and negligence has been filed against the bus driver at Narora police station.
The seven deceased were part of a group of around 60 who had left in a bus from Hathras on October 3 for the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage. According to the family members, they stopped at Narora on the last night of the journey to rest for the night and bathe in the Ganga — the riverbank is barely 200 metres from the accident site — the following morning before heading to Hathras.
Udayvir Singh, 36, who lost five family members — his mother, wife, daughter, sister and niece — said they made the journey to Vaishno Devi for the ‘mundan’ ceremony of his three-year-old daughter Kalpana, the youngest casualty of the incident.
Udayvir works as a daily wage labourer in Mohanpura village of Hathras district, as does his father, Mahender Singh. Both were sleeping inside the bus on Thursday night.
“Seven people died and there was not one sound. They died immediately, without screaming,” he said. The other two victims — Renu (22) and her niece Sanjana (4) — were also members of an eight-member family travelling together. They were also from Mohanpura.
According to Dalchand, Udayvir’s uncle, who was also on the bus when the accident occurred, they stopped to rest by the road during the course of their journey. “We are poor; we cannot afford accommodation. When we needed a break, we stopped and slept inside or atop the bus. Those who were too tired would lay down ‘chatai’ (mat) on the road and sleep,” he said.