Apathetic Kolkatans take photos but leave accident victim to die
CCTV footage shows that many people took cellphone photographs of her and walked away. By the time word got to her family and she was taken to hospital, she was beyond help. Had someone reached out to help her, Afsa may have survived, says her family.
She dropped off her daughters Haasha and Aksha at Pratt Memorial School and was returning home when an “over-speeding” private school bus ran her over while trying to overtake a public bus from the wrong lane on the flank linking Mullickbazar to Moulali.
She lay bleeding on the road in front of St John’s Church at AJC Bose Road-Ripon Street crossing for about 25 minutes in rush hour. What makes it even more shocking is, people went about normally all around her. One flank of AJC Road was then packed with vehicles bringing students to two of Kolkata’s most reputable schools. On the other flank, buses carrying passengers to Sealdah and the IT hub of Salt Lake jostled for space.
Yet, no one stopped to help an injured woman.
Turning a blind eye: The spot where Afsa Khatoon lay dying on AJC Bose Road on Friday.
Her house is a short walk away and word eventually reached her locality that a woman resembling Afsa was in an accident. Some neighbours were the first to arrive and took her to Chittaranjan National Medical College.
Afsa’s brother, Mohd Sazam Siddiqui, an MBA student, alleges she was not treated in time here, too. “Emergency ward doctors told my brother (a medical student at NRS) that Afsa gave her name and her husband’s telephone number before losing consciousness. My brother found that even basic treatment had not started,” said Siddiqui.
The hospital did call her husband but he was in the bathroom then and missed it, said Siddiqui.
When Park Street police started investigating the case, there was more shock in store. The cops could not find a single witness who saw the accident although a ration shop is only five metres away and had a long queue then.
CCTV footage shows Afsa was conscious all the while, which means help at the right moment would have made all the difference.
The administration refused to take blame. The hospital denied any delay and said Afsa was already in a critical condition when brought in. Police, too, cited their logbook to show how quickly they reached the accident spot. Police did ensure a “fast corridor” while she was being taken to hospital.
Afsa’s youngest child is just three months old. Her husband runs a popular glass business on Ripon Street. “She had promised to come back and feed her newborn,” said a tearful Siddiqui. Shops shut down in the locality in mourning and local councillor Mohd Iqbal visited the hospital to console the family.
In the evening, police detained the school bus helper but the driver is absconding. The bus is yet to be traced. Traffic police suspect the bus registration number is fake since a tractor in Burdwan has the same number.