In a rather bizarre turn of events, officials in Maharashtra have booked a woman biker from Mumbai who died in an accident after being hit by a truck while she unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a pothole. The incident occurred this morning when Bandra resident Jagruti Viraj Hogale was on her way to Jawhar, popular for its waterfalls, for a weekend getaway, police said. She has been booked for negligent driving, because, as per the police, she could have easily survived if swerved left instead of turning right. The police have identified the deceased biker as the accused and charged her with causing the accident.
According to the police, it was around 9 am on Monday when Hogale tried to overtake a truck near Vaiti village, around 100 km from Mumbai. It was raining heavily and she did not see a pothole until it was too late. She swerved abruptly to the left but was crushed by a truck, a Hindustan Times report quoted Kasa assistant police inspector Jayprakash Gute as saying.
As unfortunate as her death was, the response of the police makes the case virtually incomprehensible. “We registered a case under section 304 (a) (negligent driving) against Hogale. She should have shown better judgment while riding her bike. Had she swerved to the right, she would have probably survived as she was wearing a helmet,” Gute said.
The police, it appears, is taking the convenient way out in the name of going by the book. They have identified the biker as the accused for causing the accident and booked her as per relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act and the IPC. As per procedure, the police register a case under sections of the IPC and MVA after a crash is reported. However, in case a person is injured, he or she is still booked under the relevant sections of the Acts. In case of death in the accident, it is the accused who is booked. The Maharashtra Police have identified Hogale as the accused in this case and booked her, apparently for her own death.
Police officials claim they are going by the book. While their approach may be by the book, it surely does not appear logical. Some pertinent questions emanate from the response of the police to the entire incident. Was she responsible for the pothole being there? Was the biker aware that the pothole existed and still took an abrupt turn only to cause an accident? If not, then why shouldn’t the authorities be held responsible for the pothole being there in the first place?
The questions probably would have never arisen had this been a one-off affair. For, the menace of bad roads and its corresponding hazards appears to have turned an annual event, one that the government does not seem intent on addressing despite similar complaints every year. The response of the state government, much like its machinery, has been by the book. Maharashtra’s public works minister Chandrakant Patil on Monday said he has sought a report on the bad condition of roads.
He, however, said the pockmarked roads cannot be repaired till the heavy rain stops. “We completed the maintenance works of all roads before the monsoon. There have been issues on some roads, which have led to accidents,” Patil said.
“It is raining heavily in almost all parts of the state. Until the rain stops, repair and maintenance works would not be possible,” he added.
Road safety activists, however, contend that if there was anyone who needed to be booked in the case, it should be the Public Works Department or the MMRDA. “The real culprits are those who have not maintained the road. If the cops want to register a case against someone, they should investigate and file the case against the actual culprit,” HT quoted road safety expert AV Shenoy as saying.