9 killed, 17 injured as bus catches fire in Haryana

At least nine people were burnt alive and 17 injured when a moving bus caught fire near Tauru in Haryana's Nuh district in the early hours of Saturday, police said.
Congress candidate from Gurugram constituency Raj Babbar interacts with a bereaved family member of one of the victims.
Congress candidate from Gurugram constituency Raj Babbar interacts with a bereaved family member of one of the victims.

Gurugram | Nine people, including five women and a 12-year-old girl, were burnt alive and 17 injured when a moving tourist bus caught fire near Dhulawat village in Haryana's Nuh district in the early hours of Saturday, police said.

The incident took place around 2 am on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway, they said.

The bus was carrying around 60 people, all residents of Punjab's Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana, who were returning from pilgrim towns of Mathura and Vrindavan. All of them are relatives, the police said.

The cause of the fire is said to be a short circuit in the AC box of the bus but it is yet to be ascertained, they said.

The police said an FIR has been registered against the bus driver, who fled the scene after the incident, at Sadar Tauru police station.

Of the 17 injured, 14 have been discharged from Nalhar medical college, Nuh, while three women are still undergoing treatment at different hospitals, an official said.

Deputy Commissioner, Nuh, Dhirendra Khadgata said the forensic team of Madhuban will investigate the cause of the fire in the bus. Sub Divisional Magistrate Tauru Sanjeev Kumar has been appointed as the nodal officer to investigate this matter, he added.

A local resident Vasim said that after noticing the fire, some people called out the driver asking him to stop the bus but he continued driving. He said he even chased the bus on a motorcycle but by then the fire had spread inside the bus. The locals also informed the police and fire department.

Four fire tenders reached the spot and doused the fire, the police said, adding that of the nine people, who were killed in the incident, three are still to be identified.

Those who have been identified include Shashi Sharma, Gautam Sharma, 12-year-old Jovita alias Khushi, all residents of Shalimar Nagar Hoshiarpur, Sunita Bhasin from Model Town Kamalpur, Darshan Lal of Jalandhar and Amar Rani from New Saini Enclave, Mohali, a senior police officer said.

The injured were identified as Hasraj, Payal Sharma, Soni Sharma, Swatantra Sharma, Sudesh Kumar, Urmila Sharma, Nisha Sharma, Anju Sharma, Sangeeta, Meena Rani, Krishna, Naresh Kumar, Javinder Rana, Baljeet Singh, Poonam, Vijay Kumar and Shanti, the officer said.

"Due to their critical conditions, Shanti and Sudesh were referred to PGIMS, Rohtak, and Sangeeta was referred to a hospital in Gurugram. The others, who were injured in the incident, have been discharged. The bodies of the deceased have been sent for postmortem," Dr Vardhman of Nalhar medical college said.

According to the complaint filed by 60-year-old Rakesh Kumar, resident of Vasant Vihar, GT Road, Bhogpur in Punjab's Jalandhar, he along with his family members left for a religious trip in a tourist bus on May 10.

There were about 60 of us in the bus, including about 35 women, 21 men and four children, beside the bus driver and conductors, he said. We were on our way back home from Vrindavan on Friday night when the bus suddenly caught fire near Dhulavat village on KMP Expressway, Kumar said.

"Seeing the smoke, we told the bus driver to pull over to the side but he did not stop the bus. Later, due to heavy smoke, he stopped the bus and by then the fire had spread inside the bus. I and many other people saved our lives by jumping out of the bus and some local people took out some other passengers from the bus and admitted them to different hospitals," he said.

"About nine passengers were burnt alive in this accident. Many people also got injured and all our money, jewellery and other belongings were burnt to ashes. This accident was caused due to the careless driving of the bus driver," Kumar alleged in his complaint.

Following the complaint, an FIR was registered against the bus driver under sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304A (death due to negligence), 427 (causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Sadar Tauru police station on Saturday, the police said.

"FIR has been registered and we are trying to nab the accused bus driver. The postmortem of the bodies is being conducted," Inspector Jitendra Kumar, Station House Officer, Sadar Tauru, said.

Another survivor Hansraj said there was chaos and panic inside the bus as the smoke filled up. He said the the main door of the bus got automatically locked from outside and there was no emergency exit in the bus so people had to jump out of the windows to save their lives.

"We were on our way back home from Vrindavan in the bus when suddenly smoke started spreading inside the bus. There was chaos and panic and we were suffocating due to the smoke and crying for help. Some people came to rescue us," Hansraj, a native of Hoshiyarpur in Punjab, said.

Meanwhile, Gurugram Lok Sabha seat's BJP candidate Rao Inderjit Singh and INDIA bloc's Congress candidate, actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar expressed their grief over the incident. Babbar postponed all his election-related programmes and visited the injured at the hospital. Singh said he has sent a team to Nalhar medical college to visit the injured.

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