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22 killed as bus hits tree near Ferozepore
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Behak Pacchadian (Ferozepore), July 4
As many as 22 persons were killed and 14 injured, some of them seriously, when the chartered bus they were travelling in from Jalalabad town of this district to Dera Beas in Amritsar district hit a tree at a blind curve near this village on the Zira-Makhu road early this morning.

The private bus, alleged to be over-speeding, carrying devotees of Dera Radha Soami, Beas, from Jalalabad banged into the tree, killing 16 persons on spot. Two devotees died while they were being shifted to a hospital in Ludhiana while four succumbed to their injuries after reaching the hospital. The dead included five women.

The bus was virtually split into two.

The condition of two of the injured, shifted to CMC, Ludhiana, was critical. Three persons were shifted to a hospital in Makhu while the remaining seven injured were taken to a Zira hospital. One 11-month-old child, Nishika, escaped unhurt while her grandmother, in whose lap she was sleeping, died on the spot. Four persons were discharged after treatment at Civil Hospital, Zira.

Belongings of the victims and body parts of those killed in the accident were lying scattered at the accident site. The deceased and injured were shifted to hospitals by passers-by. Most of the victims belonged to Jalalabad town and its surrounding villages.

There was chaos at the Zira hospital as relatives of victims reached there. Volunteers of local social organisations aided the relatives.

The devotees were going to Dera Beas to participate in a satsang there. People from the dera also reached at the spot.

This was the third accident in the area in the past few weeks. A few weeks ago, five persons died in a mishap that took place near today’s accident site. Earlier, another accident near the same spot had claimed two lives.

Mr Ranjit Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Rajinder Singh, SP (H), and Mr Munish Chawla, SP (D), supervised the rescue operation. The Deputy Commissioner ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident. Mr Devinder Singh, SDM, Zira, will conduct the inquiry.

Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, said the Chief Minister has announced Rs 1 lakh ex-gratia to next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 to the injured. The Deputy Commissioner also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 10,000 to next of kin of those killed and Rs 2,500 to the injured.

Mr Chawla said a case under Section 304, IPC, had been registered against the driver, Sandeep Kumar.

According to the police, those killed have been identified as Manjit Kumar Happy, Om Parkash Bhaneja, Neelam Rani, Vijay Kumar, Karnail Singh, Chiman Lal Khera, Balbir Chand, Swaran Kumar, Jagir Singh, Jagroop Singh, Sheelo Bai, Jegindro Bai, Balkar Singh, Banso Rani, Ajay Kumar, Santa Singh, Parkash Kaur, Manoj Kumar, Kailasho, Paramjit Singh, Mehar Chand and Jeenda Bai.

Those injured have been identified as Sheetal Maluja, Swarna Rani, Suneeta Rani, Vikas Kumar, Darshna Devi, Parminder Singh, Mandeep Kaur, Amandeep Kaur, Seema and Raj Kumar.
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Town mourns death of its residents
Tribune Reporters

Jalalabad (Ferozepore), July 4
A pall of gloom descended on this town bordering Pakistan following the death of its 15 residents as a bus they were travelling in dashed against a tree near Behak Pacchadian village on the Zira-Makhu road today.

The scenes at the houses of those killed in the accident were heart rending. Residents of the town were finding it difficult to come to terms with the tragedy.

Relatives of the deceased were inconsolable at the mass cremation of 15 accident victims here. Those who died were known to nearly all residents of this small town. Some of the dead were close relatives.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, attended the cremation while former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal visited the injured in the Zira Civil Hospital.

A small village, Daroga near here, was also in deep shock as it had also lost four of its residents in the accident. The remaining three deceased also belonged to villages around this town.

All shops were closed after the news of the accident reached the town. Even cart and rickshaw-pullers stopped work and rushed to lend a helping hand to the bereaved families. A large number of people rushed towards the Zira hospital, using various modes of conveyance available at hand.

One of the worst-affected families was that of deceased brother Jagroop Singh and Jangir Singh, who were running a tractor repair shop and were the only bread winners of their family.

Vijay Kumar, another deceased, was also the sole bread winner of his family, running a small business.
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