6 students killed, 20 injured as school bus crashes into tree in Haryana's Narnaul; principal among 3 held

Police said the driver was caught from the accident site and his medical examination confirmed he was under the influence of alcohol.
Last Updated : 11 April 2024, 05:42 IST
Last Updated : 11 April 2024, 05:42 IST

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Chandigarh, Apr 11 (PTI) Six children were killed and around 20 injured as their school bus crashed into a tree in Haryana's Mahendragarh on Thursday, with police saying they have arrested three people including the principal and the driver, who was allegedly drunk and driving rashly.

State Education Minister Seema Trikha, who visited the injured students at hospitals, said a showcause notice has been issued to the private school to explain why it was open on Thursday despite it being a holiday on account of Eid.

President Droupadi Murmu said the death of schoolchildren was heart-rending. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was extremely painful.

The incident occurred near Unhani village in Kanina around 8.30 am when the bus was carrying around 40 children -- from primary to secondary classes -- to the G L Public School. The bus overturned after hitting the tree.

Dharmender was driving rashly due to which he lost control of the bus, which rammed into a tree and overturned, police said, citing reports. "Six children have died in the incident and around 20 are injured," Mahendragarh Superintendent of Police Arsh Verma told PTI over the phone.

Police said the driver was caught from the accident site and his medical examination confirmed he was under the influence of alcohol. Police have also arrested school principal Deepti and one more school official whose name is Hoshiar Singh.

School bags, shoes, water bottles and study material strewed the accident site -- signs of lives cut short, dreams shattered! Some students lay motionless in a pool of blood and others, writhing in pain, cried for help.

Some passersby rushed to help them and pulled out the children from the severely damaged bus.

An injured student told reporters that the bus was being driven at a high speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle, resulting in the crash. "The driver appeared to be drunk," he said.

Mandeep Singh, a lawyer from Kheri Talwana village, claimed some villagers stopped the driver when they learnt he was drunk but the principal intervened and asked them to leave him for the day, with a promise that he will be replaced on Friday.

Minutes later, however, the bus met the accident, he said, adding the fitness certificate of the vehicle had expired long back and it did not have insurance and other documents also.

An eyewitness said two of the decased children were from one family. He said school authorities are to be blamed as they knew about the habits of the driver.

Later in the day, the last rites of the deceased children were performed.

Mahendragarh Deputy Commissioner Monika Gupta said the private school was open on Eid and the district education officer has sent a proposal to the state government for cancelling its recognition.

Transport Minister Aseem Goel said the state government has ordered a probe into the incident following the registration of an FIR. He also directed officials to check the fitness of all school buses.

He said the bus was fined recently as it did not have certain documents and the fact that it was still being used was a clear lapse on the part of the school authorities.

Police said the school was functioning on a holiday in violation of rules.

Besides, the school authorities had been informed about the bus driver's drinking habits. Some parents brought it to the school's notice even on Thursday that Dharmender was under the influence of alcohol, officials said.

They said an assistant secretary in the office of district-transport-cum-secretary, Mahendragarh, was also suspended after it came to light that the bus lacked certain documentation.

The Additional Transport Commissioner (Road Safety) has been directed to conduct a detailed inquiry into the reasons for the accident and find out those responsible, said the officials.

The education department has also decided to hold a meeting so as to ensure that 'Surakshit School Vahan Policy' for safe transportation of the children is enforced strictly.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief J P Nadda, Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya, Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Randeep Singh Surjewala, AAP leader Sushil Gupta expressed grief over the accident.

A doctor at a hospital near the accident site, where the 20 injured children were taken to, told reporters that four of them were brought dead and one, who was put on ventilator support, succumbed to injuries.

After preliminary treatment, the injured students were taken to government hospitals and other centres including in the adjoining Rewari district, said officials.

In a post in Hindi on X, Chief Minister Saini said the local administration was taking care of the injured.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked as to how the school was functioning on Eid and demanded a judicial inquiry into the entire matter.

Congress leader Deepak Babaria urged the government to thoroughly review the safety of school buses so that such accidents do not occur in future.

Former chief minister M L Khattar said the government will bear the expense of the treatment of the injured.

An FIR has been registered, he said, adding it is a big violation that the school was open despite it being a holiday on Thursday.

Minister Trikha told PTI that it was a very painful and sad incident. "A girl has suffered skull injuries," she said, pointing to one of the students injured in the incident.

Published 11 April 2024, 05:42 IST

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