Narrow escape for 15 schoolkids

Anand Niketan school bus would have fallen 10 feet down from the elevated road near Ramdevnagar but for the tree that it banged; cops say the cleaner who didn’t have licence was driving the bus as the driver was too drunk to be at the wheel
As the bus hit the tree, CISF jawans, roadside tea vendors and people rushed to the crash site and brought the children out of bus
Fifteen children of Anand Niketan and a few commuters on Ramdevnagar-Anandnagar road had a miraculous escape on Wednesday afternoon when their bus jumped the road divider, but stopped before falling 10 feet down from the elevated road as it hit a tree. Five children suffered minor injuries.

The school bus was driven by the cleaner of the vehicle, Shailesh Mali, as the driver, Pratap Thakor, was too drunk to drive it, Satellite police said.

Mali, who did not have driving licence, was arrested at the spot while Thakor managed to escape. 

Mali, the cleaner who drove the bus

The bus was returning from the Shilaj branch of the school and about 15 children had already been dropped at their home. Mali told the cops that Thakor asked him to drive the vehicle as he realised that he (Thakor) was drunk. The cops suspect that the Thakor must have consumed liquor while on duty.

As the bus hit the tree, CISF jawans deployed for security of ISRO colony nearby and roadside tea vendors and people rushed to the crash site and brought the children out of the vehicle. CISF jawans gave first aid to those injured. They and a tea vendor, Velabhai Rabari, informed the parents of the accident.

Satellite police also arrived at the spot from their station nearby. When they caught Mali, who was in the driving seat at the time of accident and asked for his licence, he did not have any and revealed that he was the cleaner and driver Thakor was too drunk to drive the vehicle. Besides, Thakor ran away from the site soon after the accident. 

Inspector J M Bharward said the incident invited two complaints — driving without licence, endangering the lives of children, breach of prohibition laws.

While claiming that the driver (cleaner Mali) lost control of the vehicle as he tried to avoid hitting a motorcycle rider coming in from the opposite direction on the one-way stretch of the road, School managing trustee Kamal Mangal said that both Mali and Thakor stayed suspended. 

“I have been told that Thakor was drunk and the cleaner was driving the bus. But let the cops investigate this,” he said, adding that staff from the school’s Satellite branch reached the spot immediately, gave the kids first aid and the ensured that they reached home safely.”

Mangal also said that the school officials conduct monthly check on the fitness of the drivers and conductors. “We will increase the frequency of surprise checks to fortnight after this incident. Also, we have immediately changed bus and the staff on the route to drive away any fear that might be there in the minds of the children and their parents,” he said. 

Mangal also denied there was any complaint against the driver or the cleaner in the past.