Truck mows down eighteen sleeping pilgrims in Gujarat

Victims were on their way to Bhadiyad Peer Dargah at Dholka

Truck mows down eighteen sleeping pilgrims in Gujarat

They were to offer prayers at the Urs of Peer Bhadiyad Baba in Ahmedabad.

Barely 24 hours later, Khan received the news that the five, including two of his nieces, were among the 18 who were run over by an out-of-control truck on the Ahmedabad-Dolka Highway, about 50 kms from Ahmedabad.

At Dolka’s Primary Health Centre, there were heart-rending scenes as relatives of the victims jostled to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

“I have lost everything. My brother, sister, her two nieces and aunt. The family members were so excited to go to the dargah for the urs. We had never imagined that they will meet such a end,’’an inconsolable Firoz told Deccan Herald after identifying members of his family.

Thousands of pilgrims from Rajasthan and Gujarat visit the shrine every year, most of them on foot. The victims had just reached a ‘dhaba’ at Begwa Chowk on the highway around 12:30 am. 

“They were part of the 200-odd people who had halted here and wanted to take a short nap before proceeding. But about 2 am, a truck whose driver had lost control ran over this group killing 18 and injuring another dozen,’’ informed Deputy Superintendant of Police B C Gadhvi.

The truck, registered in Madhya Pradesh (MP) was going from Katni in MP to Vakaner in Rajkot. Both the truck driver and cleaner are reported to be absconding. Hours after the tragedy, the accident spot bore tell-tale signs of the tragedy. Scattered slippers, fruits squashed under the truck wheels and blood stains all around told of the horror witnessed by people in the vicinity.

“I got up hearing a loud bang. Before I could realise what was happening, I saw a truck swerving towards the side of the highway running over people who were sleeping here,” said Lalabhai, an eyewitness who runs a roadside tea stall.

Maqbool Khan, a survivor, also recounted the traumatic moments during the night.
“Before I could realise anything, the truck stopped about a couple of feet away from me, killing several people and injuring many,” Khan said adding that his brother Irshad Khan was also injured.

While 16 persons died on the spot, two others succumbed to their injuries at the government hospital. At the Dolka health centre, senior health and police officials were stationed to oversee relief efforts.

The state government was quick to announce compensation. “We have announced a relief for one lakh to those killed and 25,000 to those injured in the accident,’’ said government spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas.

The annual Urs in the Mazar attracts lakhs of devotees from all over the state as well as from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the devotees walk to the shrine to seek the blessings of the Peer.

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